Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino was given a second chance by athletic director Tom Jurich. That might be the reason that Petrino is likely to be a Cardinal for the rest of his coaching career.
Louisville has become an ACC contender and national title dark horse with quarterback Lamar Jackson breaking on to the scene and becoming one of the leaders for the Heisman Trophy. Most of the success has to do with athletic director Tom Jurich giving head coach Bobby Petrino another shot at running the Cardinals’ program. And in the estimation of CBS College Football Analyst Rick Neuheisel, that relationship might be what keeps Petrino in the Derby City for the rest of his coaching career.
“I think he is so thankful for Tom Jurich giving him the second chance that I would be surprised [if he left for another job].”
The Cardinals’ success has made Petrino’s name start to pop up in the conversation of possible coaching jobs, something that’s not new to Petrino.
If you forgot, Petrino didn’t leave Louisville in the best of ways. After signing a 10-year, $25.6 million contract in July 2006, he abandoned ship just six months later to become the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Failing to get it done in the NFL, Petrino went back to the college ranks at Arkansas, where he won, but off-the-field issues led to his ousting from Fayetteville in 2012.
Petrino didn’t stay out of coaching long, as Western Kentucky gave the embattled coach a shot. He didn’t disappoint, going 8-4 in his only season with the Hilltoppers.
A familiar name in Jurich then came calling. He believed enough in Petrino to put all of the past issues aside and give the coach another chance in Louisville.
“Given what happened at Arkansas and given the relationship and the trust that Jurich has in Petrino, I think Petrino stays,” Neuheisel said. “I think it would be hard to get a better deal that what he has already with Jurich as your athletic director given their relationship and the money that Jurich will find available.”
Neuheisel can envision one scenario in which Petrino might leave for another job, and that included Jurich leaving as well.
“I could see that possibility. He’s going to stay close to Jurich.”
The 55-year-old Petrino makes all the right calls on the field, but the best call he could make would be staying loyal to a man who gave him a second opportunity.