December 11, 2007

Petrino quits Falcons to take Arkansas job: With the season gone to the dogs, Bobby Petrino leaves Atlanta to become head coach of the hogs of Arkansas, quitting just 13 games into a 5 year contract.

posted by tommytrump to football at 06:06 PM - 38 comments

Can you blame him? He clearly signed up to coach Vick, not the Falcons.

posted by tieguy at 06:11 PM on December 11

OK, this guy got dealt a tough hand that wasn't his fault, but what a chicken-shit move to not even finish out the season. Arkansas fans better hope that nothing off-putting occurs, otherwise 'ole Foghorn Leghorn is liable to fly the coop. At least that is the impression I get. You teach them kids all about facing adversity, coach. When danger reared it's ugly head he bravely turned his tail and fled.

posted by THX-1138 at 06:13 PM on December 11

I don't know... If I was a new coach and my team fell threw the floor before the season had even started, I might do the same thing... I do admit, it wasn't a very classy move.

posted by Goyoucolts at 06:17 PM on December 11

When danger reared it's ugly head He bravely turned his tail and fled.

Very nice, Mr. Binary Man.

posted by NoMich at 06:43 PM on December 11

Well gaaaaaaaw-leeeeee, That SEC sure has a PASSLE of presteeejus coaches - filled with integriddy, and senz uf inpeckerable intesstinul forteeetude. Petrino, Miles, Saban, Meyer, the list could go on. Right on THX-1138 - you nailed it. Anything goes in the Screw Everyone Conference (S.E.C.) . . . not a mirror in sight. Gotta feel for the Razorback Athlete/Students - what an example. But DID make sure he was on Monday Night Football . . . hope the kids were watching ! Brave, Brave, Brave, Brave, Sir Petrino . . .

posted by B-2 Spirit at 06:55 PM on December 11

Can you blame him?

Yes. College coaches really are setting new lows for loyalty to their team and commitment to their word. Nick Saban quits on the Dolphins and may quit on Bama, Billy Donovan quits on the Magic after one day in the job, and now Petrino quits on the Falcons during the season with one presidential term left on his deal!

How can any recruit at Arkansas expect him to stay after they commit to the school? I wish college coaches had to sit out a year, just like student athletes, when they changed schools.

If the only reason Petrino took the job was because of Vick, that's kind of foolish. NFL teams lose quarterbacks all the time to season-ending injuries.

That doesn't mean the situation is hopeless. Look at Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe. Or Tony Romo and Drew Bledsoe.

posted by rcade at 07:23 PM on December 11

Anything goes in the Screw Everyone Conference (S.E.C.) ...

What did Meyer do wrong, exactly? Unless he made a long-term commitment to Utah I'm not aware of, he had no reason not to go to Florida or Notre Dame when both schools came calling.

posted by rcade at 07:25 PM on December 11

I think that nobody will ever know how good Petrino is or was, until he ever returns to the NFL. I the Falcons should go for young, cheap talent (such as rehiring Jim Mora's son, Steve Sarkisian, like the Raidas hiring Lane). The second thing they need to do is acquire a QB through the draft. They should go for Colt, but there are many bad teams waiting, like the Rams, among others, so JD Booty is another good option for them. Two mistakes the Falcons can make: hiring an egghead like Martz, and not drafting a QB.

posted by SFValley_Dude at 07:30 PM on December 11

Who can blame the guy man.... It was clear it wasnt about the $ and with the Falcons being bad and the Patriots owning the NFL for years to come why not quit and move on.... Look a tthe Dolphins THINK Saban made the right move now?

posted by HalloweenKingDiamond at 07:39 PM on December 11

Good riddance to bad rubbish. Paging Bill Cowher, Coach Cowher to the white courtesy phone....

posted by BitterOldPunk at 07:55 PM on December 11

but what a chicken-shit move to not even finish out the season.

Why? The Falcons season is finished; they have no chance of making the playoffs. And this is an important time for a new coach at a college- you have to assemble a staff starting now.

To put it another way: if he stays, he doesn't help the Falcons at all, and he hurts Arkansas and himself. I don't see why that makes him chickenshit.

posted by tieguy at 08:33 PM on December 11

rcade: "I wish college coaches had to sit out a year, just like student athletes, when they changed schools."

terrapin: "I wish coaches had to sit out a season like the players do when they transfer schools."

hear, hear, rcade. hear, hear :)

On preview: I agree with tieguy about the timing of the move, but by turning it around. ... The Falcons are lucky he left now because it will give them time to interview coachesnot currently employed in the NFLand evaluate those coaches who may become available after respective playoffs games.

posted by scully at 08:42 PM on December 11

You're absolutley right HalloweenKingDiamond.

All coaches should aspire to emulate Petrino and Saban.

They are pillars of their communities (read RV Park, as the engines are always running).

The athletes should take pride in a coach that "Looks out for number One" and puts loyalty so high on their personal/personality lists.

These are men of true integrity, and divine wisdom.

I'll stick with my previous post Thank You.

"When the going gets tough - HAUL ASS ! ! !

posted by B-2 Spirit at 08:44 PM on December 11

To put it another way: if he stays, he doesn't help the Falcons at all, and he hurts Arkansas and himself. I don't see why that makes him chickenshit


He just told Blank yesterday afternoon that he would be back for 2008.

He dumped on his team and left an entire organization in the lurch because he couldn't take the tough stuff.

That can be reasonably defined by a great many people who are in posession of backbones as "chickenshit".

And I beg to differ.

If he stays, he at least does the Falcons the service of consistency throughout the remainder of the season.

How on God's green Earth can you see this as anything other than a wimpy, scared, can't take the heat, boo-hoo poor me, move?

Again, good luck Hogs.

A real pillar you got there.

posted by THX-1138 at 08:58 PM on December 11


Ah, yes, because we all know the great sanctity of contract in the NFL. The great lengths to which team owners, GMs, and players treat the sanctity of the mighty contract.

Or not.

Look, I'm not saying that Petrino is somebody I'd want my kids to look up to or anything. But I wouldn't go around telling my kids he's a loathsome, 'chickenshit', individual either. Coaches, GMs, and players in the NFL break contracts all the time. On the grand scale of reasons to break them, this one seems fairly respectable to me- he's an offensive coach, and he came to Atlanta to work with a unique offensive talent who is no longer in Atlanta. And I'm sure he's leaving a lot of money on the table by walking away now. So... dunno. Chickenshit seems like a very strong, very irrational label to use on him.

posted by tieguy at 09:46 PM on December 11

I guess that Coach Fox from Carolina is now the leading candidate for the U of Mucilage (oops, make that Michigan) job.

Of course, Fox has taken the Panthers to the playoffs, NFC Championship and even the Sooper Bowl, so he's probably not as qualified as Petrino to be a college coach.

Oh, I know!

Let Michigan hire Ted Roof (formerly of Dook University).

Not having won ten games in his entire tenure there makes him a natural.

posted by efarthing1 at 09:53 PM on December 11

Seriously, what is with football coaches these days?

I read today the Michigan talked to Miles after he signed his extended contract with LSU.

What the hell is going on?

I agree with rcade and terrapin: "I too wish coaches had to sit out a season like the players do when they transfer schools."

posted by lil'red at 10:33 PM on December 11

The big scuttlebutt here in Atlanta before Vick was caught was that Petrino was going to make Vick actually compete for the job since he didn't really fit into Petrino's preferred offensive scheme (even less neatly than he had with Mora). So I think it's disingenuous to think that Vick was the main factor brining Petrino to the Falcons. Instead, it was the running game of Norwood and Dunne and the ticket to the NFL (and the money entailed) and a team that seemed to have a lot of upside (outside of Vick even). Not many Falcons fans that I know, and I know quite a few, were especially excited about his hiring actually. (There was no consensus on a better candidate however.)

Then they traded Schaub, and Vick got indicted, and Petrino got caught out of his depth. Sure, he had lousy quarterbacks, who actually looked decent from time to time. Norwood got hurt. And the defense has been lousy. He's not had many friends in the Atlanta media for quite some time (maybe week three), and believe me, that's a group thats easily jumps on a bandwagon (see Vick again).

I can't imagine who would take this job now, but I hope against hope, for the sake of the sports scene in this city, that someone respectable can be persuaded.

posted by trox at 10:39 PM on December 11

Oh. And he won't be missed, and I'm sure that many Falcons fans are looking forward to any potential drubbings that UGA will put on Arkansas going forward.

posted by trox at 10:40 PM on December 11

I can see where you're coming from, tieguy. I still think it's a chickenshit move.

posted by THX-1138 at 10:53 PM on December 11

I can't imagine who would take this job now, but I hope against hope, for the sake of the sports scene in this city, that someone respectable can be persuaded.

When I lived in Atlanta, I always got the impression that Blank was respected and ran a well-oiled machine.

This year's just blown to hell and isn't his fault.

I think his reputation might be able to lure somebody respectable back there. Or at least I hope so.

I'm sure that many Falcons fans are looking forward to any potential drubbings that UGA will put on Arkansas going forward.

Sadly, UGA doesn't even play Arkansas next year.

With the turnover in coaching, he could be gone by the next time Arkansas plays in Athens!

posted by jmd82 at 11:00 PM on December 11

I guess no one watched the game last night - the announcers were going on and on about what Petrino would have to do and how he was up to the task. Then Blank came on and talked about how they were going to work together to put things back together next season and wasn't it great that at least they had the coach to make it work. Then the announcers drafted a QB for him, going on and on about the long-term relationship between the kid and Petrino over several generations.

Pretty funny in light of this news!

posted by mikelbyl at 11:41 PM on December 11

Ah, yes, because we all know the great sanctity of contract in the NFL. The great lengths to which team owners, GMs, and players treat the sanctity of the mighty contract.

If this coaching stunt was pulled entirely within the NFL, you'd have a good point. But if you judge Petrino by college standards, where he recruits players whose commitments can't be broken without losing one year of their collegiate careers, he comes off poorly.

And even in the NFL, coaches don't pull the ripcord less than one year into a five-year contract. I'd be surprised if it ever happened before at the start of a coach's NFL career. Petrino will never be hired by another NFL team.

posted by rcade at 06:49 AM on December 12

ESPN's Pat Forde put Petrino on blast this morning, dubbing him "the disingenuous drifter." One particularly interesting passage regards a secret 2003 meeting between Petrino and Auburn officials - after working as offensive coordinator for Tommy Tuberville and using that job as a springboard to the head coaching gig at Louisville, Petrino turned around and started back-door negotiations for Tuberville's job.

When confronted by Forde at the time, Petrino lied about the meeting - until documentation of the Auburn brass' private plane flight was produced. Then he claimed it was just the mistake of a "young coach."

Petrino then went on to flirt with Notre Dame, Florida, Ole Miss, LSU, the Raiders, signed a big contract extension with Louisville, and immediately bailed for the Falcons.

Forde's conclusion does a pretty good job of summarizing Petrino's strengths and weaknesses as a head coach:

"Even in what appears to be a major rebuilding year for the Hogs in 2008, I predict Petrino will do better than expected. He's that good as a coach -- for my money, the best offensive game-planner and tactician since Steve Spurrier's heyday at Florida. That will be a welcome dynamic at a school that struggled to diversify its offense beyond Darren McFadden and Felix Jones the past two years. But a little success can be a dangerous thing. It might tempt some deluded and desperate school to offer Bobby Petrino a job -- and that's a temptation the disingenuous drifter is powerless to resist."

posted by Venicemenace at 06:51 AM on December 12

I'm just happy to see Arkansas finally has a coach.

I'm sick of hearing the media reporting a new done-deal every other day in the coaching search.

He is a great college football coach and I hope he stays at Arkansas long enough to do what he needs with the program to give us a good season or three before he sees greener grass over the fence again.

If he lasts longer than he did at Louisville I will be pleasantly surprised.

posted by bargle at 06:56 AM on December 12

Correction: This has happened before. Lou Holtz left the New York Jets in 1976 when they were 3-10 to become the coach at Arkansas. Weird coincidence.

posted by rcade at 07:04 AM on December 12

Well, the resignation sure does go a long way to explaining that little Mona Lisa smile Petrino had during Monday night's beatdown. And did anyone else hear the Joe Horn interview? Oh my god, I laughed and laughed and laughed.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:41 AM on December 12

Admittedly, this is fairly quick for a coach to bail on a coaching position, but there is a lot of evidence of football coaches only being able to coach at the college or pro level and not crossover, so it is not a huge surprise that it may not have worked out for Petrino.

Second, as someone mentioned before, with recruiting at college, it is important for schools to name coaches now rather than wait so they don't lose out on recruits. Lastly, in coaching searches, it is generally better to start the search as early as possible, so if Petrino was thinking about leaving, he may have done the Falcons a favor by leaving now rather than waiting 2 more weeks.

posted by bender at 10:25 AM on December 12

Petrino, Miles, Saban, Meyer, the list could go on.

It could, but it shouldn't include Meyer, who told the University of Utah that he would be talking to Florida.

In no way did he lead the school's administration to believe that he was staying, only to bail later.

All I know about Miles giving the screw job to Oklahoma State is the stuff I've read on the interwebs; as a Dolphins fan, I feel I know a little bit about Saban's gift for duplicitous assholery, but as far as Petrino goes, he wasn't an SEC coach until yesterday, so your assertion that he somehow represents the integrity of the conference is hogwash.

You've got an axe to grind with the SEC, fine, grind away. But facts would help your case.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 11:43 AM on December 12

Candy-ass move on Petrino's part.So he lost a key player in Vick.You stick around and try to get your team back to where they once were.Of course the team went through some turmoil losing Vick,but you've got to look ahead,hope that your draft picks can help with the veterans and the team you now have,and hope that next year things turn around.Bailing out on the team at this point doesn't help matters.Don't know anything about him as a coach,but maybe he is doing the Falcons a favor.Big difference coaching at the Pro level as opposed to the college ranks.13 games into a season has got to be a record as far as quitting.

posted by Ghastly1 at 12:41 PM on December 12

I've said it many times before on different posts, but I still have no idea why a college coach in any sport who is very successful as a college coach would want to leave that environment for the NFL.

Other than big money, a big college, where the head coach is still held in such high-esteem, has to beat all the crap a NFL coach has to be put through, especially when they generally get handed the reigns of a poor team.

With the recent defections of Saban, Petrino, etc. I truly think you'll see less and less big-name college coaches making that jump in the future.

These coaches can get money and perks jumping between various college teams rather than screwing up in the pro ranks.

posted by dyams at 01:43 PM on December 12

Shame on Bobby Petrino!!

Hey, I understand all the trials & tribulations that went on in the Falcons organization this year but com'on man, the least he could've done was finish out the season. During this year, he would tell the Falcons players to continue playing all four periods so what about coaching all 16 games? He didn't even have the balls to tell the players that he was leaving, he just left a note in their lockers.

Now, Petrino will go into the Arkansas job talking to these kids about loyalty & respect when he just showed neither to the fans, players and the higher ups within the Falcons organization. If I had children or college-aged children that played football, this would not be the man I would want my kids playing for since it seems as if the moment adversity comes within his range, he'll pull a Snaggletooth and exit, stage left.

I totally agree with the way rcade & terrapin put it, "I wish college coaches had to sit out a year, just like student athletes, when they changed schools."

Understatement of the year.

posted by BornIcon at 02:23 PM on December 12

dyams, the same question could be asked here in Silicon Valley of all the dotcom millionaires and why they don't go hang out on a beach somewhere. The answer I always hear is love of the challenge and proving the success was no fluke. Succeeding in college and the pros would also show the guy was a great coach, period, if it works out (which for Petrino it didn't).

posted by billsaysthis at 02:54 PM on December 12

I don't really see it working out that well for any recent college-coaching big shots. Spurrier, Saban, Petrino.

I don't care what kind of spin Petrino tried to put on this situation, he looked like a beaten, humiliated, embarrassed failure that didn't have any idea what chant those Arkansas players were doing around him at the press conference.

My point is they may start weighing out their desire to succeed at the NFL level versus the desire to not look like a pathetic failure at the NFL level (in a very short time, I might add).

posted by dyams at 06:40 PM on December 12

Such a classless act by someone that is supposed to be a role model. Here is what I have heard on ESPN and believe it to be true.

While at Lousiville, he flirted with the Auburn position and lied about it. He was trying to get the job there and failed. So, the Cardinals signed him to a ten-year extension.

I am not sure if this was prior to or after the 12-1 season. I just know that he moved again.

He signed a 5-year contract then with the Atlanta Falcons to be there coach.

The night after the ass-whoppin' they took at home to the Saints he is smiling and doing the Go-Pig-Sooey chant with the "NEW" home of his.

He let the fans of Atlanta down, the team-players, and the owner and General Manager.

He can cry foul all he wants about the Vick issue, but that town is hurting in a bad way.

They lost so much and had nothing good to show for it.

To not even have the courtesy to stick the year out and play till the end teaches the players he will coach that it is ok to give up - turn tail and run.

As for Arkansas, what are they thinking.

They let their coach go and he had recruited the Heisman runner up and beat the number one team in all the land.

I doubt that he will be able to contend with the likes of Saban, Miles, and the ol' ball coach.

posted by Mickster at 07:20 PM on December 12

My mistake The_Black_Hand I remember in 2002, Petrino replaced Noel Mazzone as offensive coordinator under Tommy Tuberville at Auburn. True he's never been a Head Coach in the SEC . . .

posted by B-2 Spirit at 08:36 PM on December 12

What a weasel! He signed 3 contracts over the past year. Real classy Patrino!

posted by B10 at 09:48 AM on December 13

One of the biggest things you look for as a recruiter is the past history of a potential employee. Petrino jumping ship is a huge red flag. You wouldn't hire him - character is important.

posted by Samsonov14 at 01:42 AM on December 14

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