Bobby Petrino tries to sell a new image during ESPN interview

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You can put a lot of labels on former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. 

Liar; cheater; jerk; snake oil salesman; a few others I can’t repeat here. You get the point. Most, if not all, of the adjectives used to describe Petrino are inherently negative because, well, he’s done a thing or two during his carousel of a coaching career to merit them.

He left the Atlanta Falcons organization in 2007 before the end of the regular season without even so much as a personal goodbye to take the job at Arkansas. Not five years later, he was fired from that job for committing a quid pro quo with former UA football office employee Jessica Dorrell and then lying to his boss about her presence during his motorcycle accident in April.

Everything I’ve ever been told about Petrino is the same: he’s a first class you-know-what and nobody enjoyed working with him.

But, he’s one hell of a college football coach, and he wants the chance to be on the sidelines again. What do coaches do? They coach. What do they know? Coaching. That’s why Petrino really agreed to an exclusive interview with Joe Schad of ESPN, the World Wide Leader in sports. He wants to sell his repaired, softer image so that someone in some athletic department will say “Boy, that Bobby Petrino… he’s a changed man.”

That’s what coaches do: they sell. All the time. Not to you and me — you really think Petrino cares about what we think of him now? — but to his future employer.

So is Petrino really remorseful for his affair with Dorrell, for the pain he caused his family? I don’t know and I don’t care. He’s not my father and he’s certainly not my role model. He’s a college football coach who gives great quotes so that I can feed the beast.

Which is funny, because some of the quotes Petrino gave Schad were as scripted as the Sugar Bowl hat he wore during  his initial press conference following his motorcycle accident.

On why he hired Dorrell: 

“There’s no justification, no excuse for having her in the interview pool. Having her on the back of the motorcycle. When I look back on it, there is no good answer.”

(Well, there is. He just didn’t give it.)

On what his biggest weakness is: 

“How could I possibly do this? How could I drift away from what was important to me. I made mistakes and I’m going to be a better person because of it. I’m going to keep a better balance. I think I’ll be a better coach.”

(There it is!)

Look, I’m not typing all of this like I’m offended by Petrino’s interview or anything. That would imply I had expectations for him to begin with. Petrino is a coach to me. Nothing more, nothing less. What he does privately is of no concern to me. But, there is a lesson to be learned from Petrino’s mistake: he’s human, and humans by nature are flawed. Thinking your coach or players are otherwise is setting yourself up for massive disappointment.

Not that Petrino was glorified by anybody, of course, but it’s easy to dismiss the shortcomings of a successful coach.

What Petrino did today was essentially a job interview. It was unnecessary for most of us, but to the people who matter to Petrino (future employers), he probably did well enough to merit another one down the road.

Iowa loses RB James Butler ‘at least through the bye’

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Iowa sat Akrum Wadley for much of Saturday’s 31-14 win over North Texas after he was flagged for a (frankly ridiculous) excessive celebration penalty for high-stepping his way to the Kinnick Stadium end zone. (The score was wiped off the board, but Iowa completed the drive with a touchdown anyway.) The Hawkeyes will have no choice but to give him carries now.

Running back James Butler (20) has injured an elbow that will keep him out for the next few weeks.

“I think James will be out through the bye week,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said, via Hawkeye Report. “It will be a couple of weeks before we get him back.”

A Nevada transfer with two 1,000-yard seasons to his credit, Butler was a graduate transfer addition to the Hawkeyes, announcing his transfer on July 4. He ranks second on the club with 36 carries for 158 yards thus far in 2017, carrying a season-high 16 times for 74 yards before the injury.

Butler’s carries figure to go to fellow senior Wadley and freshmen Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin. Wadley leads the club with 60 carries for 258 yards and a touchdown, and Young and Kelly-Martin have combined to rush 30 times for 152 yards and two scores. Young made his debut in Wadley’s absence in the second half Saturday, rushing 19 times for 78 yards.

The 3-0 Hawkeyes host No. 4 Penn State on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ABC), then visit undefeated Michigan State the week after (4 p.m. ET, FOX). Iowa will host Illinois before its Oct. 14 bye week.

Lincoln Riley to earn $3.1 million a year as OU head coach

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Lincoln Riley won’t be paid nearly as much as Bob Stoops was as Oklahoma’s head coach, but he’ll earn significantly more than he did as the Sooners’ offensive coordinator.

Oklahoma approved and released Riley’s new deal on Tuesday, a 5-year contract that pays him $3.1 million annually and rises $200,000 a year. Stoops made $5.5 million in his last season, according to USA Today, while Riley earned $900,000 as offensive coordinator.

Perks include 25 hours of private airplane use, not one but two private golf club membership, and bonuses ranging from $25,000 for winning Big 12 coach of the year honors to $250,000 for a national championship.

Riley is 3-0 in his young tenure, already proving himself to be a tremendous bargain for the Sooners.

SEC releases 2018 schedule

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The SEC released its 2018 slate on Tuesday, beginning the weekend of Sept. 1 and running through the SEC Championship on Saturday, Dec. 1. It would be entirely pointless to break down winners and losers of the ’18 slate considering we don’t really even know who’s good yet in 2017 — other than Alabama — and we especially don’t know who will be good in ’18 — other than ‘Bama, of course.

But we can point out some dates that look interesting as we sit here on Tuesday, Sept. 19, the year of our Lord 2017. And, no, intra-divisional games don’t count, since they are played every year.

  • Auburn vs. Washington — Sept. 1 (at Atlanta)
  • Alabama vs. Louisville — Sept. 1 (at Orlando)
  • LSU vs. Miami — Sept. 1 (at Dallas)
  • Tennessee vs. West Virginia (at Charlotte)
  • Clemson at Texas A&M — Sept. 8
  • Vanderbilt at Notre Dame — Sept. 15
  • Florida at Mississippi State — Sept. 29
  • Tennessee at Auburn — Oct. 13

Consult the full schedule here. 

Louisville-Ole Miss 2021 Chick-fil-A Kickoff opener made official

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After reports had signaled it, it’s a done deal.

The “it” in this case is Louisville opening the 2021 season against Ole Miss, with the two programs confirming Tuesday that they will square off in one of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff games that year.  The game will be played at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, although a date and kickoff time are still to be determined.

The 2021 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the football teams.  Each has made one previous appearance in the Kickoff Game, Louisville in 2015 (31-24 loss to Auburn) and Ole Miss in 2014 (35-13 win over Boise State).

“To have the opportunity to play in this game again for the second time is a huge win for our program,” Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said in a statement. “We are honored to be welcomed back by the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, which is a tremendous testament to our loyal fan base, who helped pack the stadium in 2015. Our fans have a great history of traveling, and to have the opportunity to play a great program like Ole Miss in this brand-new facility will certainly be a hot ticket for the fans. Gary Stokan and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl group do a tremendous job with this game and we appreciate them selecting Louisville for what has become the premier game to kick off the season.”

“We are thrilled to once again be part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff. We always set the goal to end the regular season in Atlanta, so it’s only fitting that’s where we begin it,” Jurich’s Ole Miss counterpart, Ross Bjork, said in his. “With our strong alumni base in Georgia, Rebel Nation will arrive in full force to experience this premier matchup in the nation’s finest new stadium. In addition, the Atlanta market is a key recruiting area for our staff, and this trip offers a tremendous opportunity to compete in front of those prospects.”

Earlier this month, it was confirmed that Alabama and Miami would square off in the other Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game the opening weekend of the 2021 season.