Bobby Petrino Comes "Home" A Changed Coach, Man
01/09/2014 11:28 AM
Just five days after news broke that Charlie Strong was leaving for Texas, the University of Louisville introduced Bobby Petrino as their next head coach.
“It was different than the first time. The first time [the interview and hiring process] moved very fast,” Petrino said. “Maybe the time was the same, but this time it felt like I was waiting forever this time.”
Trust me, coach, this was a fast process.
On Sunday, UofL president James Ramsey and athletic director Tom Jurich met to talk about the pros and cons of each candidate. The two identified a list of who should be interviewed. Seven to eight candidates were interviewed. By Tuesday morning, Jurich told Ramsey he wanted him to speak with his frontrunner, Bobby Petrino.
“This was Jurich’s decision and recommendation but UofL has approved it,” Ramsey said.
“The coach I had 8 years ago is not the coach I want,” Jurich said. “I’ve been assured the new Petrino is the coach I’ll have. We argued a lot [in the interview]. Thirty minutes into that meeting I would’ve gotten up and left. I didn’t like him. I told him that. I didn’t like the way he treated [the staff]. I’m shocked he stayed. The first 30 minutes were miserable for him.”
After sticking out the first 30 minutes, the interview lasted eight to nine hours. In that time, Bobby Petrino convinced his old employer that he was a changed man.
“He was going to go right back down I-65 if he wasn’t a changed man,” Jurich said. “He really wants to be here. He showed me a lot today [when Petrino almost cried in the press conference]. I really truly feel this is the right time and the right place for him.”
A big theme while Petrino spoke to the media today was “home.” He said over and over again that he was coming home to Louisville, where two of his kids go to school.
“I didn’t know if I would ever get the opportunity again. You take it one day at a time. You try to put it behind you,” Petrino said. “I’ve changed in a number of ways. I’ve grown professionally and personally. I’ve learned to keep my focus and concentration where it needs to be.”
Petrino compiled a 41-9 record at Louisville, beating in-state Kentucky all four years he was head coach. While UofL and the fans hope to replicate that on-the-field success, Petrino admitted that this place he calls home feels different.
“There’s a lot of newness, and that’s a testimony to Tom Jurich and all his hard work,” Petrino said.
The new head coach met with players this morning before starting his media tour, and the players said they are now convinced Petrino is the right man for the job.
“A couple guys were on the fence at first, but after the meeting this morning, pretty much all the players are convinced,” junior running back Dominique Brown said. “We pretty much knew he was a winner from the offensive stand point. We knew he had a pretty good track record.”
“I was a little reluctant at first, but I knew Mr. Jurich was going to make the right decision. I’m elated that Coach Petrino is our head coach,” junior lineman Jake Smith said. “His resume speaks for itself. When you get a guy who went 41-9 at Louisville and now is back, it really speaks for itself.”
As Louisville starts its first season in the ACC this fall, there is no time to waste adjusting to the change of a new conference, a tougher schedule and a new coach, but Petrino said he is focused on the players.
“The greatest reward isn’t so much the winning but teaching young men how to excel and how to get the best out of their ability,” Petrino said. “The greatest reward is having a young man come back and give you a hug and know you made a difference.”
Below the Fold
Subscribe and get the latest Sports Night info delivered to your inbox.