A couple of weeks ago one was for giving Bobby Petrino the benefit of the doubt, believing he had earned a mulligan for one bad year because of all he had accomplished during his first eight seasons of guiding University of Louisville football.
After watching UofL flounder helplessly against Wake Forest and Clemson, however, has one been forced to reconsider. A very difficult proposition for the Observer who was thrilled to have Petrino back when he succeeded Charlie Strong in 2014.
One of my favorite memories of UofL football was attending the Louisville-Wake Forest game in the 2007 BCSOrange Bowl in Miami, along with 35,000 to 40,000 fellow Louisville fans. UofL was riding an all-time wave of popularity, with a Kentucky fan sitting beside me in a New Year’s Day bowl game before a national TV audience. The Cardinals were riding high, finishing with a 12-1 record and Bobby was considered an offensive genius.
The next day the same UK fan handed me a Florida newspaper with an article indicating that Petrino had accepted a job with the Atlanta Falcons. And just like that, Petrino was gone. He was done with Louisville, finally managing to get what he considered to be a superior job with all the accompanying recognition.
The excitement wouldn’t last long for Petrino, with him not making it through an entire season. He would wind up at Fayetteville, standing behind a microphone shouting, “Woo, Pig, Sooie” at an Arkansas press conference. A couple of years later he was gone, having disgraced himself with an extramarital affair and fired for lying to the school’s athletic director. After a year’s absence, he would wind up at Western Kentucky University.
After Charlie Strong left for Texas at the end of 2013, Petrino was contacting Tom Jurich and Jim Ramsey, pleading for a second chance at Louisville. The outcome was predictable with Petrino getting the job. There were some concerned board members at the press conference, the concerns were outweighed by the outlook for Petrino’s offense and the prospects for a return of high-powered UofL football.
Five years later, UofL is struggling through its worst season in 20 years, with a 2-7 won-lost record, winless in six conference games, and coming off of a humiliating 77-16 loss to Clemson. There is no evidence of any improvement in any phase of the team’s game at any point this season. The opposite has been true, with the team getting progressively worse, incompetent and inept.
The defense has to be the worst ever, with opposing teams running over, around and through UofL defenders with little or no resistance. The offense bears no resemblance to previous Petrino teams, getting outscored by an average of 19 points per game. Even worse, the players don’t appear to have any idea of what they’re supposed to be doing on either side of the ball. And it doesn’t seem to bother some of them very much.
Petrino needs to be gone, as soon as possible. The ideal situation would be to fire him immediately and name an interim coach. The problem is there doesn’t seem to anyone on Petrino’s staff anywhere near capable of replacing him.
The reported $14 million buyout is steep, especially for UofL these days, but it would be the best thing for the future of UofL football. The sooner Petrino is gone, the better. Only after he’s gone will Louisville football be able to move forward again.