Bobby Petrino, who compiled a 41-9 record while leading the Louisville football program from 2003 to 2006, is returning to the Cardinals sideline. The team announced the hire in a press conference on Thursday:
Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports reported the agent for the current Western Kentucky coach was set to meet with Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich to iron out the remaining contract details before an official introduction was made:
Athletic director Tom Jurich is expected to meet with Petrino's agent, David Dunn, Wednesday night to finalize contract details. The school plans to introduce Petrino Thursday. The Louisville Athletic Association's personnel committee has called a 10 a.m. ET meeting Thursday to discuss a personnel matter. The committee is expected to approve a contract for Petrino, and he will be formally introduced thereafter.
Later in the evening, ESPN's Sportscenter feed reported the following:
UPDATE: Member of Louisville board of trustees tells @AP that Bobby Petrino has accepted offer to be Cardinals' next head football coach.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 9, 2014
Dan Wolken of USA Today reported that Petrino had already discussed his decision with the Western Kentucky coaching staff:
Bobby Petrino has informed his Western Kentucky coaching staff that a deal is done to make him the head coach at Louisville, according to a person with knowledge of the conversation.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been made public.
Louisville is expected to introduce Petrino as its new coach, replacing Charlie Strong, at a 10:30 a.m. Thursday news conference.
Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com reported it's a done deal:
Bobby Petrino accepts UL job even though contract & buyout terms not finalized, UL AD Tom Jurich tells @ESPN. Will be introduced Thurs— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) January 9, 2014
Athletic director Tom Jurich talked about his decision to hire the former coach, courtesy of Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal:
Jurich: "Bobby has convinced me he's a changed. i told Bobby the coach I had here is not the coach I want to hire. I want the new Bobby."— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) January 9, 2014
Petrino talked about his mistakes at previous jobs, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Courier-Journal:
Petrino: "I''ve made mistakes both professionally and personally and it's something I'm not going to do again."— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) January 9, 2014
Petrino also spoke about why he was coming back to the Cardinals, courtesy of Louisville's official Twitter feed:
Petrino: The first mistake I made was leaving the University of Louisville. I'm so happy to be back home in Louisville.— LouisvilleFootball (@UofLFootball) January 9, 2014
Petrino: I want everyone to know that this is my destination job. I'm excited for our future in the Atlantic Coast Conference.— LouisvilleFootball (@UofLFootball) January 9, 2014
Himmelsbach reported some contractual and staff details regarding Petrino's new regime:
$10 million buyout. Clint Hurtt will be part of staff.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) January 9, 2014
ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported that Petrino has a seven-year deal with the Cardinals:
Petrino's deal is 7 years, $24.5 million— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) January 9, 2014
Petrino will replace Charlie Strong, who left the Cardinals to accept the same position at Texas. The former Louisville head man will return after a one-season stint with Western Kentucky where he went 8-4.
Aside from an ill-fated stay with the Atlanta Falcons at the NFL level that didn't even last a full season, Petrino has enjoyed on-field success at every stop as a head coach. Between Louisville, Arkansas and Western Kentucky, he has racked up an 83-30 (.735) college record. He was just 3-10 with the Falcons.
Petrino was fired by Arkansas in April of 2012 after a motorcycle accident with his mistress shed light on an ongoing affair he was having. The married father of four hired his mistress, 25-year-old Jessica Dorrell, to the Arkansas athletic department and gave her a gift of $20,000.
Upon Petrino's firing, athletic director Jeff Long said (via ESPN), "In short, coach Petrino engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and members of the athletic staff, both before and after the motorcycle accident."
The Montana native's final season during his first go-round with Louisville was his most successful. The Cardinals finished with a 12-1 record after winning the Orange Bowl before Petrino decided to pursue other opportunities.
He realizes now that was probably a mistake, at least according to his father. Bobby Petrino Sr. told Himmelsbach that his son was hoping for another chance at Louisville and called his exit his biggest coaching error:
He told me this weekend he would like the opportunity to coach at Louisville again. He said that he’s been everywhere, the NFL and everywhere else, and he said probably the biggest mistake he’d ever made as a coach was leaving Louisville.
While Petrino covets another opportunity with Louisville, not everybody is applauding the reported decision by the Cardinals' brass. Adam Klug of CBS Sports radio says the hiring sends the message that winning is the only thing that matters:
Louisville is sending the wrong message by hiring Bobby Petrino: winning is all that matters.— Adam Klug (@Adam_Klug) January 8, 2014
While that may be the case, Forde's report states Louisville interviewed seven candidates to fill the coaching void. Apparently, it decided Petrino was the best option—again.