Thank God Petrino Isn’t LSU’s Coach

A few years ago when Nick Saban left LSU to take the Miami Dolphins’ job, there were basically three guys at the top of the list as potential replacements.

One was Les Miles, who obviously got the job.

Another was Jack Del Rio, who was the coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and still is – for now.

And the other guy, the one the fans expected then-athletic director Skip Bertman to hire, was Bobby Petrino. Petrino was the coach at Louisville at the time and his teams were really entertaining to watch.

But once Bertman interviewed Petrino, he was out of the mix. Nobody could really understand why, until the word leaked out onto the grapevine that Petrino “had a bad interview.” Or, put another way, the guy was such a flaming homorrhoid that Skip decided after five years of Saban terrorizing the athletic department personnel in the hallways he couldn’t do it to those poor people to subject them to somebody even more unpleasant.

And so Miles got the job. It took some time before the fans finally warmed up to the fact that he really was the right hire (basically, once he got John Chavis as his defensive coordinator and didn’t have Gary Crowton as his offensive coordinator anymore he finally found himself some completely clear sailing despite a 2007 national championship). But Bertman’s assessment of Petrino’s “personality” was borne out.

Two years after LSU hired Miles, Petrino left Louisville for the Atlanta Falcons job. He lasted almost a year. To say it didn’t go well would be an understatement. He went 3-10 after his quarterback went to jail for fighting pit bulls and quit to take the Arkansas job.

According to a league source, on the day Petrino resigned, his coaching staff was left waiting all day without sight or sound of him until he gathered them at about 5 p.m. that Tuesday. That’s the day the staff would have normally been responsible for putting together a game plan for Atlanta’s Week 15 trip to Tampa Bay, but no one knew where Petrino was from 8 a.m. that morning on.

When Petrino finally met with his staff, a source said Petrino uttered all of about two sentences of explanation, saying he had resigned from the organization and that he had enjoyed working with his assistants. With that, he left the room and headed for his introductory news conference with the Razorbacks.

And made some friends along the way. Especially when he bailed on the Falcons the day after getting his butt handed to him on Monday Night Football. And did it in the classiest way possible; writing a Dear John letter to his team and leaving copies of it in their lockers.

So Petrino goes to Arkansas, where they’re paying him a fortune and generally they’re not concerned about his behavior, and you get this kind of stuff…

So we fast-forward to this year, after three years of Petrino at Arkansas admittedly doing a nice job there and even managing to beat Miles in 2008 and 2010. Yesterday we get the Game Of The Century (just a few weeks after the other Game Of The Century), and Arkansas jumps on LSU 14-0 before absorbing a savage 41-3 beatdown the rest of the way.

And we get to see the real Petrino again – the one Bertman couldn’t bring himself to hire.

Here was Petrino right after LSU hit the field goal to go ahead 41-17…

And then there was the post-game “handshake”…

And here’s the post-game press conference. Nobody whose team gets blown up like that will come off as a great guy, but you can definitely see the bile building up with this guy as he struggles not to say anything that’ll get on TV…

Miles isn’t perfect. He’s goofy, he doesn’t seem to be able to string sentences together (which is an affectation, I think; he does everything he can so he won’t say something controversial) and it’s understandable if he rubs fans of other teams the wrong way.

But compared to Petrino?


Skip had this one right.



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