Most everyone assumes Bobby Petrino will coach again somewhere next season in the college ranks, and a few programs have been thrown around as possibilities in the SEC such as Auburn, Tennessee and Kentucky. Petrino coaching again in ‘13 is a safe assumption, but I’m not sold on the fact that it will be in the SEC.
Bobby Petrino, Sr. says his son wants to return to football and coaching, and he is touting him to Kentucky (if offered the job).
“I know he wants a job; he needs a job,” Petrino Sr. said by telephone Wednesday. “He told me, ‘I need a job, Dad.’ I said, ‘Well, you must still have some money. You made 31/2 million dollars.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I do. It’s not the money.’ He just misses coaching so much.
“I just know this, that he’s interested in Kentucky,” the father said. “He wants to stay in the SEC. That was his life’s goal was to go to the SEC.”
Petrino, of course, coached at Kentucky’s archrival Louisville from 2003-06, going 41-9 with an Orange Bowl victory before taking off to the Atlanta Falcons and then onto Arkansas.
Bob Sr. is convinced his son could win at Kentucky if given the opportunity.
“I think he’d win there,” he said. “He can win. He’s proven that. He went to Arkansas and I don’t think he ever had, by the experts, a class of recruiting that was in the top 10. And the last year he coached there he won 11 games, and the year before that he won 10, so he has his own way of recruiting and judging people.”
I’m sure I’m not the first to submit to the notion that Petrino going to Kentucky might happen one out of 100 times. With his background and character questions, Kentucky would have to make the decision whether or not he was worth the baggage.
I do think Petrino’s offensive style is very similar to what Kentucky needs. The Cats need a different brand of offense similar to Texas A&M and Ole Miss’ fast-faced style that makes it difficult to game plan against when teams only have a few days to prepare for it. Kentucky’s not going to win football games lining it up with everyone else with a power running game and a solid defense. They have to be different, and that’s what makes this hire crucial for Mitch Barnhart. A defensive-minded coach is not the direction he wants to go.
Sitting 1-9 and coming off the heels of a 40-point blowout loss to Vanderbilt, Petrino probably seems like the best hire. However, you know the moment another big-time job is offered, Petrino would be gone. That’s the reality of his history and the reality of the Kentucky coaching job.
There are two ways this hire can go: with an older, experienced coach who wants to end his career at Kentucky like David Cutcliffe, or an offensive-minded, up-and-coming coach who is not afraid to have a swagger about the program, players and coaching style. But if the young gun has success, he’ll use the Kentucky job as a stepping-stone in his career, not a destination job.
Barnhart’s decision is crucial to Kentucky being relevant in the SEC.
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