I fall on the side of those who aren't so crazy about the Bobby Petrino hire.
My personal take is that Petrino is very much an unproven commodity. While he might fit at Arkansas, I don't like his prospects in the SEC as a whole.
Here are my doubts...
1. The SEC is a defense FIRST league; Petrino is an offense ONLY coach.
Did Petrino ever have even a GOOD defense at Louisville?
No—just one good enough to make the occasional stop against weak Big East competition.
When the Cardinals played WVU the score was up near the 50s on both sides. Is that a sign of great offense or bad defense?
2. The Big East looks much stronger now than it did just a few years ago.
Today, the Big East is college football's new hot conference, with Cincinnati and USF emerging as powerhouses and even UConn and Pitt on the rise.
When Petrino was at Lousiville, though, those up-and-comers were still floundering. The point: The coach never excelled against tough competition.
3. What does it say that Petrino made the move to Arkansas just when he was in prime position to draft Brian Brohm—HIS man—next year?
The Falcons are due for a high draft pick, which they could have used to draft Petrino's former Louisville protégé. One draft projection I read even led with a picture of Petrino and a headline along the lines of "Reunited."
So what gives? Why would the coach bail on his boy?
4. Petrino's an unproven recruiter.
Consider Petrino's Lousiville recruiting classes (according to Rivals.com):
2006: 34th, 2.92 stars
2005: 45th, 2.59 stars
2004: 65th, 2.13 stars (behind the likes of Tulane and Syracuse)
2003: 35th, 2.39 stars
2002: 59th, 2.39 stars
Average: 48th, 2.49 stars
What's more, the fact that Petrino has been roundly blasted on ESPN by talking heads and Falcons players is sure to hurt his standing with both recruits and their parents.
5. Defense wins championships...
And nowhere in college football is that more true than the SEC.
Think about the difference between Florida's team this year and last. It's not Tim Tebow—it's the experience they lost on defense...hence the Gators' losses.
Petrino will run into more speed and athleticism on opposing SEC defeses than he ever had on his own "prolific" UL offenses. I'm just not sold on his ability to put up points at Arkansas—especially not right away.
6. The Razaorbaks will (most likely) lose their main offensive weapon next year in Darren McFadden, and possibly even Plan B in Felix Jones.
Petrino inherits a re-tooling program. Given his track record, I wouldn't be surprised if he goes one-and-done in Arkansas—he's always looking for the hot new suitor, after all.
According to ESPN columnist Pat Forde, the coach has interviewed for new jobs each of the last five years...despite assuring his bosses he wouldn't.
7. Petrino wasn't Arkansas' first choice.
The Hogs struck out several times before settling for Petrino. That doesn't bode well for either party.
All told, Petrino is a big name from a small conference—and I'd call his signing an overhyped lateral move rather than a great pickup.
Without a helluva defensive coordinator who can also recruit, Arkansas will remain (at best) the same team they've been under Houston Nutt: pretty good on offense and mediocre or weak on defense, with unremarkable depth and special teams.
I'd bet that Petrino never wins the conference championship—even IF he sticks around for a few years.
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