NEVER FORGET — “In the coming days and weeks, the disingenuous drifter will say what Arkansas fans want to hear. He’ll look at them with blank shark eyes and tell them, in a monotone voice, how excited he is to be the coach of the Razorbacks. He will tell them how impressed he is by the tradition and the fan base. He will tell them that the Southeastern Conference is the place he always wanted to coach (and that might be the one true thing he’ll say, given how many times he’s tried to land a job in the league). It will be a trumped-up stump speech, as sincere as a politician’s pledge to cut taxes. It will simply be the latest pack of lies in a career full of them. But it will be what Arkansas fans want to hear, and the poor saps will be desperate to believe him. During their arduous search to replace Houston Nutt, they’ve been used and abused by one-fourth of the coaches in the ACC — first Butch Davis, then Tommy Bowden, then Jim Grobe. Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville flirted for a minute as well. So hiring a guy with a 41-9 college record will get the blood pumping. But those Arkansas fans ready to embrace their new hotshot coach and his pretty ball plays need to understand one thing: The disingenuous drifter doesn’t love you or any other fan base. He doesn’t love any school or any NFL franchise. He loves himself, his playbook and his bank account. That’s it. Don’t expect it to change. Bobby Petrino will return your embrace, Hog fans. But while he’s hugging you he’ll be looking over your shoulder, scanning the terrain for his next hook-up… — for my money, [Petrino's] the best offensive game-planner and tactician since Steve Spurrier’s heyday at Florida. “ Pat Forde, ESPN.com Criticism, Dec. 11, 2007
Criticism that Bobby Petrino simply moves from place to place, without stability, loyalty, and without any sense of responsibility for what others have invested in him is nothing more than follow-the-World-Wide-Leader mentality. It’s like getting perspective from tired, whiney children who say “why?” but really don’t care what the details are. It’s nothing short of ludicrious to expect Petrino, with his drive and coaching ability, to accept an intolerable situation or competition with less than the best. Whether at Atlanta or Louisville, he was not in a position to accomplish his goals which is evident from his accomplishments.
After 20 years, on December 23, 2002, Bobby Petrino was positioned for the last climb to the top. His first recuiting class at Louisville in February 2003 included 4 eventual NFL draft picks with all of them making their respective teams and three of them logging decent stats this year.
Amobi Okoye Selected 10th by the Houston Texans. He’s described as : Quick, disruptive interior lineman who made an immediate impact in his rookie season…became the youngest player to appear in an NFL game since 1967 with his season-opening start against Kansas City (9/9/07)…was the youngest player ever drafted in the first round of the NFL draft at only 19 years old.Texans on Okoye
Michael Bush Selected 100th Overall by the Oakland Raiders was injured before the season with a broken leg and spent most of the season in rehab.
Kolby Smith selected 148th (5th Round) by KC and ran for 407 yards as a rookie for KC, recording 150 yds against the Raiders to make one of the best performances by a KC rookie running back in a game.KC on KS
William Gay selected 170th overall (5th Round) The corner out of Louisville, had a nice, productive season… He’s a very smart guy, a very savvy guy. Kudos for Gay
In 2003 Petrino took a Louisville team that had gone 7-6 in 2002 with a loss in the GMAC Bowl to Marshall and lead them to a 9-4 record with a loss in the GMAC Bowl to Ben Roethlisberger’s Miami (OH) RedHawks. Louisville notched a season opening victory against Kentucky winning 40-24 while two of Louisville’s losses were by 3 points each, one in double overtime to South Florida and the other on a late field goal to TCU. Bobby Petrino turned heads nationally and was remembered well by some Auburn faithful.
Petrino left Auburn about 11 months previously. Auburn President William Walker and athletic director David Housel secretly met with Bobby Petrino just two days before the Iron Bowl game against Alabama on Nov. 22, 2003, and one day before Louisville took on the Houston Cougars (a game which Louisville won.) Four days later Petrino apologized to Louisville and to Tommy Tuberville. Petrino said that Louisville had been honest and forthright with him and that Tuberville in the time that Petrino was with him at Auburn made Petrino a better father (? audio isn’t great here) and a better coach. His explanation for the secrecy was that the team had their final game upcoming and that he did not want the distraction of public speculation about him moving to Auburn. Petrino admits that he should have known better. Private Meeting News Conference
The meeting was odd, but while Petrino’s morals and ethics were criticized by everyone else, they weren’t publically questioned by Tom Jurich, ULouisville’s AD. Jurich conceeded that Auburn’s Walker and Housel knew Petrino because he had worked for them, and concievably Petrino could talk to whomever he wants. The fuss that Louisville made was directed at Auburn’s administrators not contacting Louisville officials before meeting with Petrino. In the audio available on Louisville’s website, Jurich says, “I knew people were talking to Bobby Petrino, but no one contacted me. I’m not naive [that people would talk to Petrino].” Jurich also states that he “expects” that people will talk to Petrino in the future. Was Tom Jurich really peaved at Petrino about a secret meeting with Auburn’s officials? (Audio is at the Private Meeting News Conference link above.)
Granted, Petrino was only 11 months into a contract, but if raids on your coach are that evident, then you’d better do something to keep him in place. So what happened immediately to keep Petrino in place?
Nothing. In 2004 while Tommy Tuberville made close to $1.5 million (regardless of guiding Auburn to a 13-0 record), for one more season Louisville had Bobby Petrino’s services for a base salary of $450,000 per year and no more than $750,000 per year even if all of the incentive clauses were met. Do the math.
If you think this sounds as cheap as a set of ginseu knives…wait, there’s more. Eighteen days prior to the November 22, 2003, secret meeting, ULouisville accepted an invitation to the Big East Conference.Big East Invite & Expansion Ok. Ok. Just because they accepted an invitation into the conference doesn’t mean that the University of Louisville is sharing in the revenue just yet, but the events might warrant accelerating plans to bring your coach’s salary in line with Big East salaries now.
Despite the drama, Louisville’s 2004 football campaign was 3 points short of Auburn’s accomplishment of an undefeated season. Bobby Petrino’s team’s record was three points shy of Tuberville’s team’s record for around $1,000,000 less in salary. Louisville went 11-1 for the season and along the way Louisville crushed opponents 28-0 (Kentucky), 52-21, 34-0, 59-7, 41-9, 56-49, 55-28, 65-27, 70-7, 55-7, & 44-40. Their only loss was to then No.3 Miami at Miami by a meager 41-38 margin. Louisville outscored opponents by 364 points for the season. At Louisville though, a 10-1 regular season record got the Cardinals a spot against Boisie State in the Liberty Bowl while 10-1 was as good or better than either Iowa or LSU’s records in the Capitol One Bowl, Texas or Michigan’s in the Rose Bowl, Pittsburg’s in the Fiesta Bowl or Virginia Tech’s in the Sugar Bowl that year. In December 2004 Petrino does get a raise while a few months later Tuberville gets a raise as well.
December 21, 2004
“Louisville coach Bobby Petrino signed a new contract Tuesday that will pay him $1 million a year plus a $100,000 bonus if the Cardinals win the national championship. Petrino, 43, was making $550,000 a year under his old contract. The new deal adds a $50,000 bonus if the Cardinals reach the Bowl Championship Series title game and another $50,000 if the Cardinals win it. “I’m looking forward to the upcoming years,” he said. “This is the place I want to be; this is the place my family wants to be. We’re looking forward to the future.”
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich still expected Petrino’s name to come up when higher-profile jobs opened. “There are certainly schools out there that have more money than us,” Jurich said. “But we’re going to do everything in our power to keep everything stabilized here.” The Cardinals play No. 10 Boise State (11-0) in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31.” Band Aid Raise
By comparison, for flirting with the National Championship game that year, Tommy Tuberville’s compensation package skyrocketed to $2.5 million. Petrino’s Louisville Team was 3 points away from the SAME RECORD. Breakdown of Tuberville Compensation Despite the salary increase, Bobby Petrino’s salary lost $500,000 per year ground to Tommy Tuberville’s if anyone is keeping score.
About the same time, LSU came knocking on Petrino’s door. Remember Hog Fans that LSU came calling for Houston Nutt as well. What are Jurich’s comments about known meetings between Petrino and LSU prior to a bowl game? If you’ll recall, Petrino said the reason for his private meetings with Auburn’s President and AD were so that they wouldn’t be a distraction to his team.
January 2, 2005
“But [Louisville AD Tom] Jurich expressed disappointment with the timing of Petrino’s contacts with LSU, which fueled intense speculation about the coach’s future as Louisville prepared for its Liberty Bowl game against Boise State. The Cardinals (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) defeated 10th-ranked Boise State 44-40 on Friday, giving the Cardinals a best-ever 11-1 record.” No Time & No Manner is Proper
January 1, 2005
“I know I have caused great consternation for Tom Jurich and created additional confusion for our passionate and loyal fans. That was never my intention. Tom’s generous contract extension last week showed his commitment to me and my family as well as this program. For that, I’m grateful.” “I apologize for this confusion over my job status this past week and I ask for your continued support for our players, this staff and this University as we build this football program into a national power.” Petrino’s Apology
Even with the December ’04 raise, Petrino’s contract paid him a quarter of a million dollars less than what Les Miles’ new contract was at LSU. Les Miles had just come from Oklahoma State were his record from 2001 through 2004 was 28-21, winning no more than 9 games in any one season. Others Are Respected More
At least there was some movement to make Petrino’s salary more in line with coaches who guided their teams to a top 10 finish. Louisville finished the 2004 season at No. 6 in the AP Poll and No. 7 in the USA Today Poll and the formal acceptance into the Big East was only months away. If you were to scratch off the surface of the deal though, the raise may not have been as much as it seems. It’s hard to imagine that most of the incentive clauses weren’t met in the 2004 season.
On June 30, 2005, Louisville was admitted into the Big East. In 2005, the Oakland Raiders offered Petrino their job which Petrino declined.
With Petrino at the helm, the Cards went 9-3 in Big East with a loss to Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl. Their regular season losses were to South Florida and West Virginia. That year Big East average football attendance was 38,933 per game and even with the previous year’s success, Louisville was short of selling out its 42,000 seat stadium for the year.
It’s truly hard to imagine that a nearly undefeated football team doesn’t sell out a 42,000 seat stadium, but in 2005, of the 6 Home games that Louisville played, only 2 broke the 42,000 attendance mark. 2005 NCAA Louisville Stats Even during its 2004 run, home game attendance set a school record at 40,351 on average for 5 games, but it was still less than stadium capacity. 2005 Louisville Attendance In terms of money spent, 41,000 Louisville Football Fans paying an average of $50 per ticket (single game seats were actually $32 in 2005) would generate ticket revenue of $2.05 million per home game. By contrast, in 2005 Churchill Downs on-track handle was $1.85 million per day on average for its 52-day meet. Churchill Downs 2005 Louisville Cardinal football, as suggested in a previous post, was (and will likely always be) fourth behind Horse Racing, Louisville Basketball, and sippin’ Kentucky Bourbon.
In July 2006, Petrino signed a 10-year contract extension that paid him $1.6 million a year and made him one of the country’s higher-paid coaches. The same Pat Forde above wrote:
“Petrino will receive an immediate raise from $1 million a year to $1.6 million, and his salary will steadily escalate throughout the length of the contract. By 2010 he is slated to earn $2 million, putting him into an elite category of coaches — believed to be 14 currently — at that plateau.
At the deal’s end, 2015, Petrino will make $2.6 million. He also will have retention bonuses of $1 million in 2007, 2010 and 2013, and a $2 million retention bonus in 2015…Last season there were reports that Petrino had discussions with the Oakland Raiders. Jurich said Petrino was offered the job several times, at a salary of up to $5 million annually. ‘I thought, 100 percent, he was going to the Raiders,’ Jurich said. ‘When he turned that thing down, I knew we had a chance to keep him here for a long time. That’s when I went to Bobby about this deal.’” wwl’s Forde
In 2006, Louisville continued winning and winning big. Going 11-1 in the regular season, Louisville took a place in the Orange Bowl and beat Wake Forest to finish No. 6 in the AP poll for the year. Once again, only a 3 point loss, this time at Rutgers, kept a Petrino team from an undefeated season. Darn Good Season
Arthur Blank and the Atlanta Falcons were successful in wooing Coach Petrino to the Falcons after the 2006 season. I won’t cover what happened there. If you want the story of Coach Petrino coming to Arkansas, you can find it here, Petrino’s Battle for Arkansas.
Bobby Petrino may not now, at Arkansas, be in the best job, with the biggest and best of everything.
On the other side, he will now be mentioned in the same breath, week in and week out, with Urban Meyer, Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Les Miles, Mark Richt, et al. He has some of the best facilities in the country at his disposal with a stadium nearly double what he had coached in at Louisville. He recruited to Louisville which can’t be easier than Fayetteville to recruit to. He will play against the best competition that college football has to offer. He’s making $2.85 million per year and only 6 coaches in college football make more than him. D-I Coaching Salary Rank Petrino’s Arkansas Contract
No University has ever raided an Arkansas Football Head Coach. While there are no promises that Petrino couldn’t go anywhere, the list of places where Petrino could go is short.
Pat Forde and his ilk characterize Petrino as a drifter caring only about his bank account and playbook. I guess if you settle for ESPN.com, that’s where you’ll stay.
If you work for ESPN.com and like Only Your Bank Account and you’re offered $5,000,000 to go to take Bob Costas’ place at NBC, if you Don’t take it, you must have considered the contract while drinking and palling around with Mike Price in a strip club.
I guess if you stick with a head coach and move with his staff to a place, you must be disloyal to the place you left.
I guess if you don’t take jobs when big schools in the Best Football Conference in the Country come calling, you must be disingenuous.
If you’re One of the Best at what you do, and you’re getting paid a fraction of what others are paid, you must need to be content.
If you coach football in a basketball conference, then you must need make the people like football better.
If you stay at a coaching position for 4 years, you’re a wanderer.
Well Pat, Here’s to withering away in cyberspace obscurity!
Petrino will make it to the Summit that he’s been eyeing at ARKANSAS!
Thanks ya’ll for the clicks and the reads. One week was an adequate time to see what I needed. I appreciate ya’ll.