And there you have it. The Prodigal Football Son has returned.
How long he stays or what controversy may be lurking around the next corner is to be determined.
Regardless, and following up on speculation that against all logic began gaining momentum Wednesday, Louisville confirmed in a release ahead of a press conference Thursday morning that it has hired Bobby Petrino as its new head football coach. Petrino, who spent 2013 as the head coach at Western Kentucky, will replace Charlie Strong, who left the Cardinals after three seasons for the Texas job.
The official announcement comes after a special meeting of the university’s Personnel Committee was convened to discuss the hire. That committee, as is usually the case, unanimously approved the move.
It also comes a little over seven years after Petrino ended a four-year stint as the Cardinals head coach, a wildly successful run that saw him compile a 41-9 record and an Orange Bowl win. Since then, Petrino’s coaching career has been marked by the controversy left in the wake of his departures from the Atlanta Falcons and Arkansas Razorbacks.
And, as expected, Petrino talked — in generalities –about his controversial past in the press conference to officially introduce him as the UofL’s new head coach.
“I’ve made mistakes both professionally and personally, something that I’m not going to do again,” Petrino said, adding his “first mistake was ever leaving” Louisville in the first place. “I want everyone here to know this is my destination job. … This is where I want to finish my career,” said the vagabond coach.
Petrino’s boss is also sold on the “new man” angle that the university is pushing.
“I believe Bobby Petrino’s a changed man,” UofL athletic director Tom Jurich stated. “Bobby has convinced me he’s a changed man. …
“Bobby has convinced me he’s a changed man. I told Bobby the coach I had here is not the coach I want to hire. I want the new Bobby.”
Petrino also acknowledged that he’s contractually obligated to follow through on his “I want to finish my career at Louisville” creed, revealing that he has a $10 million buyout written into what’s reportedly a seven-year deal. Petrino is actually quite familiar with eight-figure buyouts; in signing a seven-year deal with Arkansas in December of 2010, part of the language included in that deal was a buyout of $18 million if he left for another job in the first two years.
Of course, that buyout never came into play because, well, vroom vroom…