After losing Garrick McGee and John L. Smith to head coaching positions, Arkansas fans were hoping to hear some good news soon enough. Matt Jones of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette is reporting that Paul Petrino will be returning to Arkansas.
Paul Petrino left Arkansas in 2009 to become the OC under Ron Zook at Illinois. Zook was fired after the end of the Illini’s regular season, leaving his assistants to look for jobs elsewhere. As the cards fell into place, it was almost certain that Paul Petrino would return to his duties at Arkansas.
Official Arkansas Press Release
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino has announced Paul Petrino as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Razorbacks.
Paul Petrino most recently completed his second season as offensive coordinator at Illinois, and has 20 years of collegiate experience and an impressive offensive background, which includes national top-10 rankings in scoring and total offense.
“I am extremely thrilled to have Paul become a member of our staff again,” said UA head coach Bobby Petrino. “Paul has had several options with high level programs the past few days and I’m excited he made the decision to rejoin our program. His experience the last two seasons, blended with our philosophy will give us continuity with our aggressive scheme. Paul has a talented offensive mind and he has had great success every step of his career. His offensive numbers and rankings speak for themselves, and he has always had an incredible ability to develop players.”
In 2011, Petrino coached A.J. Jenkins to one of the best seasons by a receiver in Illinois history, as Jenkins led the Big Ten with 84 catches. His 1,196 yards rank second in school history prior to Illinois’ appearance in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and he also ranks in the school’s top-five in season receptions, season 100-yard receiving games, career receptions, career receiving yardage, career receiving touchdowns and career 100-yard receiving games.
Petrino guided an Illini offense that broke school records for total points (423) and points per game (32.54) in 2010 and featured running back Mikel Leshoure, who broke the single-season school rushing record with 1,697 yards. Illinois averaged 42.1 points and 448.9 total yards over the last seven games of the season and notched a 38-14 win over Baylor in the 2010 Texas Bowl.
In 2009 as offensive coordinator at Arkansas, the team averaged 37 points per game, which ranked eighth in the NCAA, while also posting top-15 rankings in passing offense at No. 10 (303.3 ypg) and total offense at No. 14 (439.3 ypg). Razorback quarterback Ryan Mallet was the nation’s sixth-rated passer, averaging 285 yards per contest and throwing 29 touchdowns. The Razorbacks broke the school record for passing yards with 3,640, eclipsing the previous record that was set under Petrino in 2008.
Petrino coached at Louisville from 2003-06 and in 2007 with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. He was the receivers coach in Atlanta after working the four previous years as offensive coordinator and receivers coach at Louisville. Playing for Petrino, Roddy White enjoyed the best season of his pro career with 83 catches for 1,202 yards.
His teams at Louisville averaged 41.1 points per game from 2003-06; 34.6 in `03; 49.8 in `04; 43.3 in `05 and 37.8 in `06. Texas Tech was the only other school to rank in the top 10 nationally in total offense during those years. In 50 games at Louisville, Petrino’s teams went 41-9 and scored 40 or more points 28 times and 60 or more seven times.
Petrino coached three wide receivers who set single-season yardage records at Louisville. Arnold Jackson totaled 1,209 yards in 1999, J.R. Russell broke the record in 2003 with 1,213 yards and Harry Douglas had 1,265 yards in 2006.
In 2006, the Cardinals went 12-1, won the Big East title and finished the year ranked No. 6 in the nation. Louisville was second in the country in total offense (475.3 ypg), seventh in passing (290.0 ypg) and fourth in scoring (37.8 ppg). In 2005, Louisville (9-3) was ninth in the nation in offense (482.1) and third in scoring (43.4 ppg) with six offensive players earning first-team All-Conference honors. Running back Michael Bush led the nation with 24 touchdowns, while receiver Mario Urrutia was second in the nation in yards per catch.
The 2004 team won the Conference USA title, beat No. 10 Boise State in the Liberty Bowl, finished 11-1, finished ranked No. 7 in the nation, and led the nation in total offense (539.0 ypg) and scoring offense (49.8 ppg). The Cardinals set school records for total yards, rushing yards and points in a season (597), also scoring 50-plus points seven times. Russell earned All-Conference honors for the second-straight season after catching 73 passes. He had 75 catches for a school-record 1,213 yards in 2003.
Petrino began his coaching career in 1990-91 as the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at his alma mater, Carroll College. He coached at Idaho for the next three years (1992-94), where he tutored receivers, running backs and special teams. As running backs coach, he coached Sherriden May to All-America honors after he led I-AA players with 150 points while rushing for 1,111 yards. Petrino moved to Utah State from 1995-97 as receivers coach and special teams coordinator. In 1995, Aggies’ receiver Kevin Alexander was second in the nation in receptions and third in yards.
In 1998, Petrino went to Louisville for two years in his first stint at the school. In 1998, with brother, Bobby, coaching quarterbacks and Paul coaching receivers, UL set records for points (473), scoring average (39.4), touchdowns, passing yards, passing touchdowns, pass attempts, completions and total offense. In 1998, the Cardinals ranked No. 1 in the nation in passing offense and ranked second in 1999.
From 2000-02, he was the quarterbacks coach at Southern Mississippi. In his three seasons, the Golden Eagles went 8-4, 6-5 and 7-6 with two bowl bids.
Born in Butte, Mont., Petrino was a four-year starter at quarterback for his father at Carroll College from 1985-88. He set 16 school records, earned Kodak All-America honors and was named the Football Gazette NAIA Division II Player of the Year as a senior. In Petrino’s four seasons, Carroll was 36-6 and won four Frontier Conference titles. He was an All-Conference and All-Region selection all four years and was a two-time All-American. Petrino and his wife, Maya, have two daughters, Anne Mari and Ava, and a son, Mason. Anne Mari and Mason are twins.