Louisville will begin playing playing football in the ACC this year. To a person there isn’t anyone that doesn’t think Louisville isn’t an upgrade over a the middling Maryland football program. With the Cardinals recent hire of Bobby Petrino, who replaces the departed Charlie Strong the Cardinals have made a clear statement… they are going to do anything it takes to have a winning football team.
One the one hand, a small part of me admires the hire of Petrino. Winning football requires investment in coaches facilities and recruiting. Clemson did it when they made their assistants some of the highest paid in college football. Florida State did it when they turned the page on the Bobby Bowden era and groomed Jimbo Fisher to be his replacement.
In years past, not enough ACC football programs were willing to take those steps necessary to truly become better. Louisville hired one of the best available offensive minds in the business. Petrino is a winner. He won when he was at Lousiville in the early 2000s. He made Arkansas competitive in the brutal SEC West. In one year he led Western Kentucky to an 8-4 record. The guy can coach. There is no question about it, but he comes with baggage a lot of baggage.
Petrino’s has one of the worst off the field reputations in college football. His transgressions are many… He secretly interviewed for Auburn’s head coaching job while at Louisville. He turned his back on Louisville after a signing a new deal to take a job with the Atlanta Falcons. With the Falcons he bailed on them with handwritten notes before taking the job at Arkansas.
At Arkansas he mis-used his position to hire his mistress, got in a motorcycle accident with said mistress, then lied about to his boss. At best he’s made a ton of selfish mistakes and has learned from them, but at worst he’s one of the most dishonest, self serving personalities ever in major college athletics. I honestly don’t know which he is now. He’s convinced Lousiville AD Tom Jurich he’s a new man and that’s all counts. There’s already been plenty of backlash in the national media with many questioning Petrino hire.
If Petrino has truly changed, Lousiville has made a brilliant move. If he hasn’t oh he will win big for a couple of years, then move on leaving the Cardinal program in shambles they way did the first time around and they way Arkansas was left in shambles. I’m just not sure he’s worth the risk. Louisville has become a good job, and they are moving to a conference with the reigning national champions in Florida State, I believe they could have found a solid coach without the baggage.
For everything good Tom Jurich has done, he’s staking his legacy on a coach with questionable character. We will know 2-3 years if he made the right move.