Having been the football coach at the University of Arkansas for a whole nine months, Bobby Petrino told ESPN the image of him as a nomad is misplaced. Couldn’t be because he has no fixed residence and  wants to keep moving from place to place on a seasonal basis? No way.

While perusing an old flight schedule from Ozark Air Lines, Petrino dutifully noted that Arkansas was only his second head college coaching job and that he had had only one stint as a coach in the National Football League – throughout the interview thinking to himself, “this is where I want to be …what town is this anyway?”

He added with a straight face that spending only one year with the Atlanta Falcons was the reason he is misunderstood. And, oh yeah  he admitted, interviewing for the Auburn head job while Tommy Tuberville was still the head coach (in 2003) may have had something to do with it as well. No mentions of LSU, Notre Dame and his other seek afters.

The reporter and the coach also mention the University of Louisville several times during the interview:

Your dad’s in town through the opener. Does he still weigh in and give you some coaching advice?

BP: Oh yeah. He always does. When I first got the job at Louisville, I brought him in that first spring and he worked extremely hard. I gave him a position to evaluate every day, not only the players, but the coaches. He would go to the meetings and did a great job and did that again this spring here. He gives you some insight that maybe you missed or you don’t see.

What’s the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make into this job?

BP: We’ve gone back to trying to build the program the way we did it when I first got to Louisville, with hard work, good character, making sure that we do things right in the classroom. We’ve had a couple of incidents here (off the field) that I didn’t like. I think the other players on the team understand that’s not the way we’re going to operate.

How does this challenge compare to what you faced at Louisville when you took that job in 2003?

BP: It’s a different challenge. When you went to Louisville, it was simply, ‘Hey, let’s try to build this program. Let’s make sure we’re not known as a second-tier, Division I school.’ Here, the challenge is to win a national championship. Everybody understands that. It’s SEC football, so we’ve got to get to Atlanta in the championship game and then play for a national championship and win it, if we’re going to meet the challenge here.

Is it too unrealistic to think Arkansas can make the same kind of jump offensively in your first year as Louisville did in your first year there?

BP: I don’t know about that, because the defenses are so good in the SEC. That’s the biggest difference. We started out in Conference USA at Louisville, and there were much different defenses than what we’re going to face here. The speed and talent on the other side of the ball in the SEC … I don’t think we’re going to be worried about stats. We’re going to be worried about trying to score one more point than the other team.

A worthy goal, competing for a national championship. Don’t expect him to ever get  any closer than he did at Louisville – one half of football away from being ranked No. 1 in the land.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

2 thoughts on “Bobby Petrino: ‘Nomad Tag Doesn’t Fit’”
  1. Bobby Petrino is a very good football coach. At Arkansas, in the SEC, he will be able to recruit on a whole different level than what he could while at Louisville. Given time, he will get Arkansas to a National Championship game . . . so long as he doesn’t take a job elsewhere first. I am not one of those Louisville fans that harbor ill will towards the man. he did great things for us while he was here – “terrible . . . but great.”

  2. Nice piece. Just to clarify, though, we were 1 half of football away from making the championship game, but we would never have been ranked higher than #3 until after the OSU-Michigan game. And then, only #2.

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