If “smugness” were a coaching skill, he’d be Bear Bryant.
Let’s play with a hypothetical for a moment. It’s the offseason, and there’s no recruiting that we haven’t already pored over, so why not, right?
Let’s assume that Joker has a bad year this year. I hope it doesn’t happen; I like Joker a lot. But I think we’ll all acknowledge that this season has the potential to get pretty rough. Now, let’s also assume that Bobby Petrino goes all year without finding employment anywhere in a coaching capacity. The question is: if Joker is relieved, and Bobby is available, would you want to hire him?
The Case For:
Let’s be real here, the man can coach football. If you can have that level of success at Louisville, you can do it here, too. I’m sure of it. The resources are a wash, and although the conference is tougher, the recruiting pipelines are a little better. I have little doubt that in a matter of a few years, he could turn UK into a perennially ranked program. We might not regularly win SEC titles, but that’s almost impossible here. But we’d get to bowl games, and we’d have a good chance at winning them. I’d say that even a BCS bowl wouldn’t be out of the question, if the stars aligned.
If UK hired Bobby Petrino, we’d be one of the few schools with competitive programs in both football and basketball. Schools like Ohio State, Texas, and Michigan can do that more easily, simply because they have more resources. Those schools are hugh, and their programs make a ton of money (Texas in particular). We, on the other hand, have to be craftier about how we get football success, and Petrino seems like just the guy who could do something like that for us.
Then we get to the “poetic justice” segment of the argument: hiring Petrino would almost, almost, be a perfect retribution for Pitino leaving UK and ending up at Louisville. The stories would be fairly similar, actually. A school’s great, beloved coach bolts for the pros, has little success, and ends up coming back to the state. Petrino made that additional stop at Arkansas, but that doesn’t really detract from the juiciness of that plot line. I don’t think Petrino is as big a deal as Pitino, necessarily, but I also care a little more about basketball than I do about football. It could go a long way in establishing the Wildcats as a good football team, and do a lot to piss of the Cards. That sounds pretty appealing.
The Case Against:
While winning games is appealing, having Bobby Petrino as our head coach, frankly, isn’t. If we’re acknowledging that the guy can coach, we should also acknowledge that he’s a scumbag. A year is a long time, but do you really think people will forget about what’s just happened in the span of a season? Again, if we’re assuming that he doesn’t get hired anywhere, why do you think that is, and why does it sound so plausible? Because he has tremendous baggage, that’s why. The man showed little to no morality in his recent actions, by not only spending some quality time with another man’s fiancee, but also by having her on his staff. Sounds pretty familiar, right? Head coach has an affair with somebody close to the program, and gets caught? For all the trash we give Louisville fans for “Ricky Three Stacks”, you have to imagine that they’d be able to fire most of that right back at us, and that doesn’t sound enjoyable.
A friend reminded me yesterday, “He cheated on his wife, not at football.” That’s true, and it’s a valid point. A man’s personal life is just that, and I don’t know of any evidence that indicates Petrino has shady tactics when it comes to coaching, except bolting for better jobs. In an era where even extremely popular football coaches are under scrutiny for all manner of devious action (like Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno), is cheating on your wife really all that bad?
Well, like it or not, Kentucky has a stigma already. We knew it would happen when we hired Calipari. Even though we’ve gotten to know Cal, and we’ve seen the great side of him that everyone else seems to ignore, people see us as the program who will hire anybody if it means we’ll win some games. They don’t like Cal, and they certainly won’t like Petrino. If we hire Bobby, we can expect people everywhere, and not just in Louisville, to view us as a program that doesn’t value integrity. We’ll be the new national villain. Is that fair? No, I stand by Cal fully and think he’s a great man, and not just a great coach. But people outside would disagree, and Petrino would just give them ammunition.
Personally, I’d rather Joker just win a bowl game this year. But, provided the above scenario, I still wouldn’t hire Bobby Petrino. Cal has shown that he’s a man of character, and that’s enough for me to ignore the negative attention he gets from those who don’t know any better. But Petrino? I’ve seen none of that from him. Granted, I know less about him, but it’s hard to ignore recent events that speak to the man’s character. I just don’t see how giving people more reason to hate our school, and attack our principles, is worth winning a few football games. Even if it does mean a BCS bowl.
I say stay away from Bobby. But, reasonable minds could differ.