The University of Louisville has made no attempt to steer the coaching search discussion away from Bobby Petrino returning to become the head coach of the football program.
The consensus is that Bobby Petrino will be hired Thursday. If Petrino isn’t hired, there are going to be a lot of red faces in the local media. There will also be a lot of angry and embarrassed fans who couldn’t leave it to Tom Jurich to do what he does best, hire the best coach for the job.
Never mind that previous Petrino departures from UofL, the Atlanta Falcons, and the University of Arkansas were poorly handled. The Arkansas experience was a fiasco, exposing him as a liar and a cheat to that university and his family. It comes as no surprise his latest employer, Western Kentucky University, that Petrino was going to leave at his first opportunity.
No doubt Petrino has learned some lessons. Whether he is a changed individual only he knows for sure. He remains a member of the football coaching fraternity, a nomadic group of people who move from one place to another absorbing scarce resources. Loyalty is only important in as far as it relates to their personal wants and needs.
Coaches also know that fans can be equally selfish and unforgiving. That’s why athletic administrations and coaches are compelled to keep fans at arm’s length, knowing that the fan loyalty is closely tied to won-lost records. One gets the impression at times that coaches don’t respect fans. Charlie Strong constantly lecturing fans on how to be fans, ignoring them on his way out the door.
While it would be ironic if Petrino returned to UofL, the path to his return to his major job has been predictable. The formula was obvious: Expressing his regrets and going jobless for a year before latching on to mid-major program and waiting until a school needed him.
Another grateful coach on the UofL payroll, one who we will never forget the chance Tom Jurich gave him, pledging his fidelity and allegiance to the program. How did that work out with Charlie Strong? We’re talking about football coaches here, without an ounce of credibility when it comes to loyalty.
The worse possible outcome would be that Petrino returns to UofL and leaves at the first opportunity. Louisville, Arkansas, Western Kentucky, they’re all the same to football coaches, just football programs in a pecking order. Don’t expect the man in charge, the one demanding loyalty, to be loyal.