Where is he, the football coach who demanded perfection, the bully who ruled by intimidation, the browbeater no one wanted in their face? The one some misinformed analysts still describe as an offensive genius? The arrogant rowdy whose teams ran roughshod over lesser opponents?
Where is the tactician who would draw up the first 10 plays of the game, quickly getting his team in the opposing end zone? The one knew how good he was in the profession, always looking around for another job, wanting move up in the profession?
Nowhere to be found on the University of Louisville sideline this season, at least not after the first four games. Bobby Petrino, the one who used to have all the answers, seemingly replaced by a shadow of himself.
Players needing some good things to happen, but lacking the confidence to get there.
The current version of Petrino reduced to almost apologizing after a demoralizing 27-3 loss to Virginia on Saturday. The coach in the same fog as he was following struggles against Indiana State and Western Kentucky, all but apologizing, repeating familiar assertions about needing to get better.
Questionable whether Petrino is confident that can happen, sounding like he wasn’t sure where to begin. Not when he doesn’t know who his quarterback will be next week. Pulling starting quarterback Malik Cunningham after an unproductive first half in which UofL was unable to amount any offensive threats. His replacement Jawon Pass unable to capitalize on three opportunities inside the five-yard line, at other times short-arming numerous passes to receivers in wide open spaces.
Uncertain about his running backs as well, his starter Dae Williams picking up only six yards, the replacement Jeremy Smith only 10 yards, and Trey Smith somehow managing 27 of them. None of them in long enough to get a good feel for the game.
In the first four games this season, Louisville has scored only 10 points in the first half. Players needing some good things to happen, but lacking in the necessary confidence or leadership to get there.
Petrino just wanting to get back on the practice field, wanting to put another lackluster performance behind him. Wanting to get out of the line of fire, wanting the doubters to go away, wanting something to right for a change.
Forced to try some new approaches maybe. No longer having the luxury of a scrambling Lamar Jackson to overcome questionable play calling and offensive inefficiencies. One of the top paid football coaches in the nation, knowing things are heading south, needing to turn things around.