Today's Paper News Sports Features Business Opinion LEARNS Guide Newsletters Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

WALLY HALL: Polarizing Bobby Petrino remains person of interest

by Wally Hall | August 8, 2019 at 6:50 a.m.

When David Bazzel announced Bobby Petrino was going to speak at the Little Rock Touchdown Club this year, it sparked a debate among fans, especially on radio talk shows.


First, attendance is not mandatory. If you don't want to hear what Petrino has to say, don't go.

Secondly, what did Petrino do to the University of Arkansas?

Yes, he made one mistake, the same mistake that is made way too often every day all over the world.

He paid dearly. It cost him his job, and he's been tip-toeing home for chili ever since.

The surprise of Petrino coming doesn't have anything to do with him getting fired at Louisville with a 2-8 record, only his second losing season on a resume that shows he is 119-56 as a coach.

More than likely, he was let go at Louisville because he's a driven perfectionist who can be difficult to deal with.

When Jeff Long fired Petrino for not telling the truth to his bosses, he had two assistant athletic directors between him and Petrino.

Long officially hired Petrino, but it was at the urging -- aka, orders -- of the board of trustees.

Long was more interested in guys such as Jim Grobe and Tommy Bowden, who are no longer head coaches.

Petrino left the Atlanta Falcons before the season was over to get to Arkansas.

He took over and united the program after the fans split over Houston Nutt's departure.

He went 5-7 his first season, then was 8-5, 10-3 and 11-2. The 2010 season (10-3) got the Razorbacks their one and only BCS game in the Sugar Bowl. In three bowl appearances in four seasons, he won twice.

Then he made a mistake off the field and was terminated.

This is a guy who was such a perfectionist, before his first game at Arkansas he noticed one of the team doctors had on his own shoes. Petrino told the equipment manager to give him a pair of tennis shoes that matched the ones everyone else was wearing.

In the summer of 2009, this reporter was in Helena, Mont., where Petrino grew up and played college football.

In a small casino, a conversation started with two locals whose wives were taking turns playing a nickel slot machine.

There was no prying or looking for dirt, but one of the men disappeared for a few minutes. When he returned, both men shared stories about Bobby Petrino and his brother, Paul.

They were young guys who liked to have a good time and were absolutely not afraid of anyone.

During fall camp a few weeks later, Petrino pulled this scribe aside and asked about the impressions of Wyoming.

He said the two men from the casino were friends of his dad's and had called him to let him know a reporter was in town asking questions about Bobby.

Dad called son, who said not to worry about it. That's when the men regaled me with the stories.

Basically that was and is Petrino: He faces everything head on.

When he lied about being alone on his motorcycle the day he crashed, it was to save his wife, Becky, from the embarrassment he knew it would cause her.

To her credit, she forgave him, but she wanted to leave the state. That's why he took the Western Kentucky job instead of Arkansas State University.

After an 8-4 season there, he returned to Louisville, where he had been 41-9 in four previous seasons.

In November, he was dismissed. Basically, no one has heard from him since.

The man is hard to deal with, but he's an offensive genius. He's probably got a compelling story to share with the LRTDC.

Sports on 08/08/2019

Print Headline: WALLY HALL: Polarizing Bobby Petrino remains person of interest


Sponsor Content