Bobby Petrino

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Bobby Petrino
Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino.jpg
Petrino at the Arkansas spring game in 2010
Biographical details
Born (1961-03-10) March 10, 1961 (age 57)
Lewistown, Montana
Alma materCarroll College
Playing career
1980–1982Carroll (MT)
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1983Carroll (MT) (GA)
1984Weber State (GA)
1985–1986Carroll (MT) (OC)
1987–1988Weber State (WR/TE)
1989Idaho (QB)
1990–1991Idaho (OC)
1992–1993Arizona State (QB)
1994Nevada (OC/QB)
1995–1997Utah State (OC)
1998Louisville (OC)
1999–2000Jacksonville Jaguars (QB)
2001Jacksonville Jaguars (OC)
2002Auburn (OC)
2007Atlanta Falcons
2013Western Kentucky
Head coaching record
Overall119–56 (college)
3–10 (NFL)
Accomplishments and honors
1 C-USA (2004)
1 Big East (2006)

Robert Patrick Petrino (born March 10, 1961)[1] is an American football coach and former player. He most recently served as the Head Coach of University of Louisville beginning in 2014 until being fired during the 2018 season. From 2008 to 2011, Petrino was the head football coach at the University of Arkansas. He was dismissed from that position in the spring of 2012 "with cause".[2] Petrino also coached the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL) for part of the 2007 season. He spent the 2013 season as head football coach at Western Kentucky University.

Petrino has directed his college teams to nine bowl games, including the first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl games for both the Louisville Cardinals and the Arkansas Razorbacks. His college teams have achieved four 10-win seasons along with six top-25 finishes.

Early years[edit]

Born in Lewistown, Montana, Robert Patrick Petrino grew up in Helena and graduated from Capital High in 1979.[3] He attended hometown Carroll College and graduated with a physical education and a math minor in 1983.[4] While at Carroll, he played quarterback for the Fighting Saints and began his coaching career there as a graduate assistant during the 1983 season. Petrino grew up in the coaching profession. His father, Bob Petrino Sr., coached at Carroll College in Helena, Montana for 26 seasons, earning 163 victories and 15 conference titles.

Before Bobby Petrino coached with his father, he played football for him at Carroll. Petrino played quarterback and twice earned NAIA All-American honors. He led the Fighting Saints to three straight Frontier Conference Championships and was named the league's most valuable player in 1981 and 1982. He also played four years of basketball at Carroll.

Bobby Petrino officially started his coaching career as a graduate assistant for his father at Carroll College in 1983. After a graduate assistant stint as quarterbacks coach at Weber State in 1984, Petrino returned to be the offensive coordinator for his father in 1985-1986. Carroll had the top-ranked offense in the NAIA ranks in both of his seasons, thanks in large part to the play of Bobby Petrino's younger brother, Paul, who was a four-year starter as quarterback at Carroll College.

Assistant coaching career[edit]

Carroll and Weber State[edit]

After a year at Carroll, he moved to Weber State College in the Big Sky Conference, coaching quarterbacks as a graduate assistant under head coach Mike Price. Petrino returned to his alma mater in 1985 as offensive coordinator. In each of his two seasons in that position, Carroll had the top-rated offense in NAIA football.[5][6] He then returned to Weber State for two seasons in 1987 and 1988 as the receivers coach under Price.

Idaho and Arizona State[edit]

Petrino spent a year as quarterbacks coach at the University of Idaho in 1989 under new head coach John L. Smith, then was promoted to offensive coordinator. In 1992, he took a step up the collegiate coaching ladder to Division I-A (now FBS) when he became quarterbacks coach at Arizona State University in the Pac-10 Conference. During his two seasons at ASU under head coach Bruce Snyder, he oversaw the development of future All-American QB Jake Plummer, who went on to play ten seasons in the NFL.[7]

Nevada and Utah State[edit]

In 1994, he moved to the University of Nevada, serving as both offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Chris Ault. During his one season there, the Wolf Pack were second in the nation in both passing offense and total offense, and third in scoring offense. The next year, he began a three-year stint as offensive coordinator at Utah State University, reuniting with Smith.


When Smith moved to Louisville in 1998, Petrino followed him there as offensive coordinator. In his one season there, the Cardinals were top-ranked in Division I-A in scoring and total offense and posted the biggest positive turnaround among I-A football teams, winning six more games than in the 1997 season. Petrino left the collegiate ranks to coach in the NFL for three years.


Petrino's first stint in the NFL was from the 1999 season to the 2001 season, as he spent two seasons as the quarterbacks coach and a third as offensive coordinator with the Jacksonville Jaguars.


In 2002, Petrino returned to the college ranks, replacing Noel Mazzone as offensive coordinator under Tommy Tuberville at Auburn, whose offense significantly improved that season under Petrino's watch.

Head coaching career[edit]


Petrino returned to Louisville in 2003 as head coach, replacing John L. Smith, who departed for Michigan State. After only one season at Louisville, Petrino secretly interviewed for the coaching job at Auburn, as the Tigers were considering whether to retain his former boss, Tuberville.[8]

In four years at Louisville, Petrino built the Cardinals into a national power. He led them to 11 wins in 2004 and 12 wins in 2006—only the second and third times that the Cardinals won as many as 11 games in a season.

On July 13, 2006, Petrino signed a 10-year, $25.6 million contract to stay on as head football coach. The deal gave Petrino a raise from $1 million to $1.6 million annually, and he would have been paid $2.6 million in the final year of the deal. The contract included a buyout clause of $1 million.[9]

On January 7, 2007, it was announced Petrino had accepted the head coaching position for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.[10]

Atlanta Falcons[edit]

The Falcons brought Petrino to Atlanta by signing him to a five-year, $24 million contract.[11]

A major reason Petrino was brought in was to develop star quarterback Michael Vick into a more "complete" quarterback, Vick being known more for his ability to run than as a pocket passer. However, before Petrino's first training camp, it emerged that Vick had bankrolled an illegal dog fighting operation near his hometown in Newport News, Virginia. The terms of Vick's bail barred him from leaving Virginia before the November 26 trial, ending any realistic chance of him playing a meaningful down in 2007. Petrino entered the season with back-ups Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, and Chris Redman as his quarterbacks.

With their franchise quarterback effectively sidelined for the season, the Falcons appeared to be a rudderless team. On December 10, 2007, with the Falcons at the bottom of the NFC South with a 3–10 record, Petrino resigned to take a job as the head coach at Arkansas. Petrino informed his players of his decision to resign via a four-sentence laminated note left at the locker of each player, a move that many in the organization harshly criticized.[12][13][14]


Petrino during the pre-game "Hog Walk" to the stadium in 2008

Petrino's contract with Arkansas was valued at $2.85 million per year for five years.[11]

The Razorbacks ended the 2008 season with a record of 5–7 (2–6 in the SEC); The two conference wins were over Auburn, and a last second win against LSU in the annual Battle for the Golden Boot.

Under Petrino, the Razorbacks showed significant improvement in the 2009 season with analysts from both ESPN and CBS regularly citing starting quarterback Ryan Mallett as one of the most impressive collegiate quarterbacks in the country. The Razorbacks came close to upsetting the No. 1-ranked Florida Gators on October 17, 2009.[15] That game culminated in a controversial fourth quarter personal foul call on an Arkansas lineman. The resulting 15-yard penalty allowed the Gators to continue what turned out to be their game-winning drive. The SEC ultimately issued an apology for the call and suspended the officiating crew.[16]

The Razorbacks also enjoyed success under Petrino in the 2010 season, finishing 10–2 and notching their first BCS bowl appearance, against Ohio State. In the 2011 Sugar Bowl, Ohio State built an early lead behind the play of Terrelle Pryor and Daniel Herron, but Arkansas came back in the second half. As the Razorbacks were driving for a go-ahead score in the final minutes, Ryan Mallett threw an interception near the Ohio State 20-yard line, and Ohio State ran out the clock.

The Razorbacks won the 2012 Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas, defeating Kansas State by a score of 29-16. The Hogs concluded the 2011 season with an 11-2 record, with their only losses to Alabama and LSU. It was just the third 11-win season in Arkansas' 119-year football history.

Motorcycle incident[edit]

In April 2012, Petrino was involved in a motorcycle crash on Arkansas Highway 16 near the city of Crosses. He was riding with former Arkansas All-SEC volleyball player Jessica Dorrell, whom he had hired on March 28 as student-athlete development coordinator for the football program after she served as a fundraiser in the Razorback Foundation. Petrino initially said he was alone on the motorcycle. However, on April 6, just minutes before a police report was to be released showing Dorrell was also aboard, Petrino revealed that Dorrell was not only a passenger, but that he had been conducting an adulterous relationship with her. Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long placed Petrino on an indefinite paid leave of absence while he reviewed the situation.

On April 10, Long announced that Petrino had been fired. During Long's investigation, it was discovered that Petrino made a previously undisclosed $20,000 cash gift to Dorrell as a Christmas present. It was also revealed that Dorrell may have received preferential treatment in her hiring on the football staff, as Petrino's relationship with Dorrell was not disclosed and Petrino was on the hiring committee. Long determined that Petrino's attempts to mislead both him and the public about the accident and his relationship with Dorrell were grounds to fire Petrino for cause.[2][17][18] Long also determined that the $20,000 payment could expose Arkansas to a sexual harassment suit if Petrino were retained.[19] Petrino was succeeded by his former boss, Smith, who had been the Arkansas special teams coach before briefly taking the head coaching job at Weber State.

The incident was referenced in the 2015 movie Blue Mountain State: The Rise of Thadland.

Public apologies[edit]

In July, Petrino contacted Smith and members of his former team, including quarterback Tyler Wilson, who said the outreach provided "a little closure." Running back Knile Davis said, "He apologized. He said, 'I'm sorry for everything that happened.' ... He was very humble. He was very hurt. I told him not to be so hard on himself. I told him, 'You made a mistake. You'll get back from it.'"[20] Smith's phone call with Petrino was "basically about our football team at Arkansas, of which he's always concerned about" [sic][21]

In August 2012, Petrino sat down for a video interview[22] with ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad to express remorse and regret, saying there was "no justification" for his decisions.[23]

Western Kentucky[edit]

On December 10, 2012, Western Kentucky hired Petrino as their new head coach, replacing Willie Taggart, who departed for South Florida.[24][25] Petrino signed a four-year contract with a base salary of $850,000 annually. If Petrino should leave early, conditions of the contract required Petrino to re-pay the university $1.2 million in six monthly payments starting the month after he leaves.[26]

In Petrino's only season at WKU, the Hilltoppers began with a second straight win over Kentucky and finished with an 8–4 record; however, they were not invited to a bowl game.

Return to Louisville[edit]

After Charlie Strong left Louisville for the University of Texas, Petrino was rumored as one of the candidates to become the next head coach. On January 9, 2014, Louisville's athletic director Tom Jurich made his hiring official at a press conference after being unanimously approved by the University of Louisville Athletic Association. Petrino reportedly signed a deal that pays $24.5 million over seven years with a buyout of $10 million.[27] After leading the Cardinals to 2-8 record in 2018, which included a seven game losing streak and consecutive blowout losses to rival ACC teams Clemson and Syracuse, Louisville fired Petrino on November 11, 2018, agreeing to buy out the remaining $14.1 million of his contract.[28].

Personal life[edit]

Petrino has two sons and two daughters with his wife, Becky. His older daughter, Kelsey, graduated from the University of Louisville; his older son, Nick, also attended Louisville. His younger son, Bobby, Jr., attended the University of Arkansas and his younger daughter, Katie played on Louisville's golf team.[29] He also has 5 grandchildren.[30] Petrino's younger brother Paul is the head football coach at the University of Idaho.

Head coaching record[edit]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Louisville Cardinals (Conference USA) (2003–2004)
2003 Louisville 9–4 5–3 T–3rd L GMAC
2004 Louisville 11–1 8–0 1st W Liberty 7 6
Louisville Cardinals (Big East Conference) (2005–2006)
2005 Louisville 9–3 5–2 2nd L Gator 20 19
2006 Louisville 12–1 6–1 1st W Orange 6 5
Arkansas Razorbacks (Southeastern Conference) (2008–2011)
2008 Arkansas 5–7 2–6 T–4th (Western)
2009 Arkansas 8–5 3–5 T–4th (Western) W Liberty
2010 Arkansas 10–3 6–2 T–2nd (Western) L Sugar 12 12
2011 Arkansas 11–2 6–2 3rd (Western) W Cotton 5 5
Arkansas: 34–17 17–15
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (Sun Belt Conference) (2013)
2013 Western Kentucky 8–4 4–3 T–3rd
Western Kentucky: 8–4 4–3
Louisville Cardinals (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2014–present)
2014 Louisville 9–4 5–3 3rd (Atlantic) L Belk 24 24
2015 Louisville 8–5 5–3 3rd (Atlantic) W Music City
2016 Louisville 9–4 7–1 T–1st (Atlantic) L Citrus 20 21
2017 Louisville 8–5 4–4 T–3rd (Atlantic) L TaxSlayer
2018 Louisville 2–8 0–7 (Atlantic)
Louisville: 77–35 45–24
Total: 119–56
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
ATL 2007 3 10 0 .231 4th in NFC South
Total 3 10 0 .231

Coaching tree[edit]

Assistants under Petrino who became NCAA or NFL head coaches:


  1. ^ Bobby Petrino Archived 2007-12-10 at the Wayback Machine. University of Louisville, accessed January 16, 2008
  2. ^ a b "Arkansas Razorbacks fire Bobby Petrino as coach". ESPN. April 11, 2012.
  3. ^ "Bobby Petrino Biography". SEC Sports Fam. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Bobby Petrino Personnel File" (PDF). University of Arkansas. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
  5. ^ "All-Time Coaching Records". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  6. ^ "Bobby Petrino Biography". SEC Sports Fan. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  7. ^ Bobby Petrino Bio The Orange Bowl, accessed January 16, 2008
  8. ^ "Auburn wants Tuberville to return in 2004 - College Football - ESPN". 2003-11-27. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
  9. ^ Crawford, Eric. (2006-07-13) Louisville's Petrino signs 10-year contract. Usatoday.Com. Retrieved on 2011-11-14.
  10. ^ Falcons hire Petrino as new coach. AccessNorthGa (2007-01-07). Retrieved on 2011-11-14.
  11. ^ a b "Petrino abruptly quits Falcons, takes Arkansas job". 13 December 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  12. ^ Glier, Ray (13 December 2007). "Short, Unhappy Union of Petrino and Falcons Reaches a Bitter End". Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via
  13. ^ Sources: Petrino leaving NFL for Arkansas job, 11 December 2007.
  14. ^ Petrino resigns as Falcons coach FOX Sports, 11 December 2007.
  15. ^ "Arkansas vs. Florida - Recap - October 17, 2009 - College Football -". Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  16. ^ | Gators Sports Scene | Florida Today's Gators Blog
  17. ^ "Ark. puts Bobby Petrino on leave". ESPN. April 5, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  18. ^ "Ark. Puts Petrino On Paid Leave Following Crash". KHBS. April 5, 2012. Archived from the original on April 9, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
  19. ^ Bobby Petrino detailed affair to AD. ESPN, 2012-04-20.
  20. ^ "Bahn: Petrino Apology To Razorbacks A Step Toward His Return To The Field". July 18, 2012. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  21. ^ Bobby Petrino reaches out. July 18, 2012
  22. ^ Presenters: Joe Schad (2012-08-10). "Bobby Petrino Sorry For Actions". Helena, Montana. 4:07 minutes in. ESPN. Missing or empty |series= (help)
  23. ^ Bobby Petrino emotional, regretful. August 10, 2012
  24. ^ "Bobby Petrino is new WKU football coach". WDRB 41 Louisville.
  25. ^ "Western Kentucky hires Bobby Petrino as coach". FOX Sports on MSN.
  26. ^ "Bobby Petrino hired as head coach of Western Kentucky Hilltoppers". ESPN.
  27. ^ "Petrino accepts job, returns to Louisville". Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  28. ^ "Bobby Petrino fired as Louisville coach". Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  29. ^ Katie Petrino Profile - Louisville Cardinals Official Athletic Site Archived 2013-12-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  30. ^ "Bobby Petrino: Beyond Football – The Arkansas Traveler". 2010-10-27. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2012-05-15.

External links[edit]