Bobby Petrino

Bobby Petrino tries to sell a new image during ESPN interview


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.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.