Robert Patrick Petrino (born March 10, 1961) is an American
football coach and former player. He is currently the head football
coach at the University of Louisville. From 2008 to 2011, Petrino was
the head football coach at the University of Arkansas. He was
dismissed from that position in the spring of 2012 "with cause".
Petrino also coached the
Atlanta Falcons of the National Football
League (NFL) for part of the 2007 season. He spent the 2013 season as
head football coach at Western Kentucky University.
Petrino has directed his college teams to nine bowl games, including
Bowl Championship Series
Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl games for both the
Louisville Cardinals and the Arkansas Razorbacks. His college teams
have achieved four 10-win seasons along with six top-25 finishes.
1 Early years
2 Assistant coaching career
2.1 Carroll and Weber State
2.2 Idaho and Arizona State
2.3 Nevada and Utah State
3 Head coaching career
3.2 Atlanta Falcons
3.3.1 Motorcycle incident
3.3.2 Public apologies
3.4 Western Kentucky
3.5 Return to Louisville
4 Personal life
5 Head coaching record
6 Coaching tree
8 External links
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Born in Lewistown, Montana, Robert Patrick Petrino grew up in Helena
and graduated from Capital High in 1979. He attended hometown
Carroll College and graduated with a physical education and a math
minor in 1983. While at Carroll, he played quarterback for the
Fighting Saints and began his coaching career there as a graduate
assistant during the 1983 season. Petrino grew up in the coaching
profession. His father, Bob Petrino Sr., coached at Carroll College in
Helena, Montana for 26 seasons, earning 163 victories and 15
Bobby Petrino coached with his father, he played football for
him at Carroll. Petrino played quarterback and twice earned NAIA
All-American honors. He led the Fighting Saints to three straight
Frontier Conference Championships and was named the league's most
valuable player in 1981 and 1982. He also played four years of
basketball at Carroll.
Bobby Petrino officially started his coaching career as a graduate
assistant for his father at Carroll College in 1983. After a graduate
assistant stint as quarterbacks coach at Weber State in 1984, Petrino
returned to be the offensive coordinator for his father in 1985-1986.
Carroll had the top-ranked offense in the NAIA ranks in both of his
seasons, thanks in large part to the play of Bobby Petrino's younger
brother, Paul, who was a four-year starter as quarterback at Carroll
Assistant coaching career
Carroll and Weber State
After a year at Carroll, he moved to Weber State College in the Big
Sky Conference, coaching quarterbacks as a graduate assistant under
head coach Mike Price. Petrino returned to his alma mater in 1985 as
offensive coordinator. In each of his two seasons in that position,
Carroll had the top-rated offense in NAIA football. He then
returned to Weber State for two seasons in 1987 and 1988 as the
receivers coach under Price.
Idaho and Arizona State
Petrino spent a year as quarterbacks coach at the University of Idaho
in 1989 under new head coach John L. Smith, then was promoted to
offensive coordinator. In 1992, he took a step up the collegiate
coaching ladder to Division I-A (now FBS) when he became quarterbacks
coach at Arizona State University in the Pac-10 Conference. During his
two seasons at ASU under head coach Bruce Snyder, he oversaw the
development of future All-American QB Jake Plummer, who went on to
play ten seasons in the NFL.
Nevada and Utah State
In 1994, he moved to the University of Nevada, serving as both
offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Chris Ault. During
his one season there, the Wolf Pack were second in the nation in both
passing offense and total offense, and third in scoring offense. The
next year, he began a three-year stint as offensive coordinator at
Utah State University, reuniting with Smith.
When Smith moved to Louisville in 1998, Petrino followed him there as
offensive coordinator. In his one season there, the Cardinals were
top-ranked in Division I-A in scoring and total offense and posted the
biggest positive turnaround among I-A football teams, winning six more
games than in the 1997 season. Petrino left the collegiate ranks to
coach in the NFL for three years.
Petrino's first stint in the NFL was from the 1999 season to the 2001
season, as he spent two seasons as the quarterbacks coach and a third
as offensive coordinator with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In 2002, Petrino returned to the college ranks, replacing Noel Mazzone
as offensive coordinator under
Tommy Tuberville at Auburn, whose
offense significantly improved that season under Petrino's watch.
Head coaching career
Petrino returned to Louisville in 2003 as head coach, replacing John
L. Smith, who departed for Michigan State. After only one season at
Louisville, Petrino secretly interviewed for the coaching job at
Auburn, as the Tigers were considering whether to retain his former
In four years at Louisville, Petrino built the Cardinals into a
national power. He led them to 11 wins in 2004 and 12 wins in
2006—only the second and third times that the Cardinals won as many
as 11 games in a season.
On July 13, 2006, Petrino signed a 10-year, $25.6 million contract to
stay on as head football coach. The deal gave Petrino a raise from $1
million to $1.6 million annually, and he would have been paid $2.6
million in the final year of the deal. The contract included a buyout
clause of $1 million.
On January 7, 2007, it was announced Petrino had accepted the head
coaching position for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons brought Petrino to Atlanta by signing him to a five-year,
$24 million contract.
A major reason Petrino was brought in was to develop star quarterback
Michael Vick into a more "complete" quarterback, Vick being known more
for his ability to run than as a pocket passer. However, before
Petrino's first training camp, it emerged that Vick had bankrolled an
illegal dog fighting operation near his hometown in Newport News,
Virginia. The terms of Vick's bail barred him from leaving Virginia
before the November 26 trial, ending any realistic chance of him
playing a meaningful down in 2007. Petrino entered the season with
back-ups Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, and
Chris Redman as his
With their franchise quarterback effectively sidelined for the season,
the Falcons appeared to be a rudderless team. On December 10, 2007,
with the Falcons at the bottom of the NFC South with a 3–10 record,
Petrino resigned to take a job as the head coach at Arkansas. Petrino
informed his players of his decision to resign via a four-sentence
laminated note left at the locker of each player, a move that many in
the organization harshly criticized.
Petrino during the pre-game "Hog Walk" to the stadium in 2008
Petrino's contract with Arkansas was valued at $2.85 million per year
for five years.
The Razorbacks ended the 2008 season with a record of 5–7 (2–6 in
the SEC); The two conference wins were over Auburn, and a last second
win against LSU in the annual Battle for the Golden Boot.
Under Petrino, the Razorbacks showed significant improvement in the
2009 season with analysts from both
ESPN and CBS regularly citing
Ryan Mallett as one of the most impressive
collegiate quarterbacks in the country. The Razorbacks came close to
upsetting the No. 1-ranked Florida Gators on October 17, 2009.
That game culminated in a controversial fourth quarter personal foul
call on an Arkansas lineman. The resulting 15-yard penalty allowed the
Gators to continue what turned out to be their game-winning drive. The
SEC ultimately issued an apology for the call and suspended the
The Razorbacks also enjoyed success under Petrino in the 2010 season,
finishing 10–2 and notching their first BCS bowl appearance, against
Ohio State. In the Sugar Bowl, Ohio State built an early lead behind
the play of Terrelle Pryor and Daniel Herron, but Arkansas came back
in the second half. As the Razorbacks were driving for a go-ahead
score in the final minutes,
Ryan Mallett threw an interception near
the Ohio State 20-yard line, and Ohio State ran out the clock.
The Razorbacks won the
2012 Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas, defeating
Kansas State by a score of 29-16. The Hogs concluded the 2011 season
with an 11-2 record, with their only losses to Alabama and LSU. It was
just the third 11-win season in Arkansas' 119-year football history.
In April 2012, Petrino was involved in a motorcycle crash on Arkansas
Highway 16 near the city of Crosses. He was riding with former
Arkansas All-SEC volleyball player Jessica Dorrell, whom he had hired
on March 28 as student-athlete development coordinator for the
football program after she served as a fundraiser in the Razorback
Foundation. Petrino initially said he was alone on the motorcycle.
However, on April 6, just minutes before a police report was to be
released showing Dorrell was also aboard, Petrino revealed that
Dorrell was not only a passenger, but that he had been conducting an
adulterous relationship with her. Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long
placed Petrino on an indefinite paid leave of absence while he
reviewed the situation.
On April 10, Long announced that Petrino had been fired. During Long's
investigation, it was discovered that Petrino made a previously
undisclosed $20,000 cash gift to Dorrell as a Christmas present. It
was also revealed that Dorrell may have received preferential
treatment in her hiring on the football staff, as Petrino's
relationship with Dorrell was not disclosed and Petrino was on the
hiring committee. Long determined that Petrino's attempts to mislead
both him and the public about the accident and his relationship with
Dorrell were grounds to fire Petrino for cause. Long also
determined that the $20,000 payment could expose Arkansas to a sexual
harassment suit if Petrino were retained. Petrino was succeeded by
his former boss, Smith, who had been the Arkansas special teams coach
before briefly taking the head coaching job at Weber State.
The incident was referenced in the 2015 movie Blue Mountain State: The
Rise of Thadland.
In July, Petrino contacted Smith and members of his former team,
including quarterback Tyler Wilson, who said the outreach provided "a
little closure." Running back
Knile Davis said, "He apologized. He
said, 'I'm sorry for everything that happened.' ... He was very
humble. He was very hurt. I told him not to be so hard on himself. I
told him, 'You made a mistake. You'll get back from it.'" Smith's
phone call with Petrino was "basically about our football team at
Arkansas, of which he's always concerned about" [sic]
In August 2012, Petrino sat down for a video interview with ESPN
college football reporter
Joe Schad to express remorse and regret,
saying there was "no justification" for his decisions.
On December 10, 2012, Western Kentucky hired Petrino as their new head
coach, replacing Willie Taggart, who departed for South
Florida. Petrino signed a four-year contract with a base
salary of $850,000 annually. If Petrino should leave early, conditions
of the contract required Petrino to re-pay the university $1.2 million
in six monthly payments starting the month after he leaves.
In Petrino's only season at WKU, the Hilltoppers began with a second
straight win over Kentucky and finished with an 8–4 record; however,
they were not invited to a bowl game.
Return to Louisville
Charlie Strong left Louisville for the University of Texas,
Petrino was rumored as one of the candidates to become the next head
coach. On January 9, 2014, Louisville's athletic director Tom Jurich
made his hiring official at a press conference after being unanimously
approved by the
University of Louisville
University of Louisville Athletic Association. Petrino
reportedly signed a deal that pays $24.5 million over seven years with
a buyout of $10 million.
Petrino has two sons and two daughters with his wife, Becky. His older
daughter, Kelsey, graduated from the University of Louisville; his
older son, Nick, also attended Louisville. His younger son, Bobby,
Jr., attended the
University of Arkansas
University of Arkansas and his younger daughter,
Katie played on Louisville's golf team. He also has 3
grandchildren. Petrino's younger brother Paul is the head football
coach at the University of Idaho.
Head coaching record
Louisville Cardinals (Conference USA) (2003–2004)
Louisville Cardinals (Big East Conference) (2005–2006)
Arkansas Razorbacks (Southeastern Conference) (2008–2011)
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (Sun Belt Conference) (2013)
Louisville Cardinals (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2014–present)
W Music City
Conference division title or
championship game berth
†Indicates BCS bowl.
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
4th in NFC South
Assistants under Petrino who became NCAA or NFL head coaches:
Garrick McGee: UAB (2012–2013)
Paul Petrino: Idaho (2013–present)
Minnesota Vikings (2014–present)
Oakland Raiders (2011),
Cleveland Browns (2016–present)
Jeff Brohm: Western Kentucky (2014–2016), Purdue (2017–present)
Bobby Petrino Archived 2007-12-10 at the Wayback Machine. University
of Louisville, accessed January 16, 2008
^ a b "Arkansas Razorbacks fire
Bobby Petrino as coach". ESPN. April
Bobby Petrino Biography". SEC Sports Fam. Retrieved 4 October
Bobby Petrino Personnel File" (PDF). University of Arkansas.
Retrieved April 20, 2012.
^ "All-Time Coaching Records". College Football Data Warehouse.
Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved August 27,
Bobby Petrino Biography". SEC Sports Fan. Retrieved August 27,
Bobby Petrino Bio The Orange Bowl, accessed January 16, 2008
^ "Auburn wants Tuberville to return in 2004 - College Football -
ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2003-11-27. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
^ Crawford, Eric. (2006-07-13) Louisville's Petrino signs 10-year
contract. Usatoday.Com. Retrieved on 2011-11-14.
^ Falcons hire Petrino as new coach. AccessNorthGa (2007-01-07).
Retrieved on 2011-11-14.
^ a b "Petrino abruptly quits Falcons, takes Arkansas job". espn.com.
13 December 2007. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
^ Glier, Ray (13 December 2007). "Short, Unhappy Union of Petrino and
Falcons Reaches a Bitter End". Retrieved 10 April 2017 – via
^ Sources: Petrino leaving NFL for Arkansas job ESPN.com, 11 December
^ Petrino resigns as Falcons coach FOX Sports, 11 December 2007.
^ "Arkansas vs. Florida - Recap - October 17, 2009 - College Football
- SI.com". cnn.com. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
^ floridatoday.com Gators Sports Scene Florida Today's Gators Blog
^ "Ark. puts
Bobby Petrino on leave". ESPN. April 5, 2012. Retrieved
April 6, 2012.
^ "Ark. Puts Petrino On Paid Leave Following Crash". KHBS. April 5,
2012. Archived from the original on April 9, 2012. Retrieved April 5,
Bobby Petrino detailed affair to AD. ESPN, 2012-04-20.
^ "Bahn: Petrino Apology To Razorbacks A Step Toward His Return To The
Field". arkansassports360.com. July 18, 2012. Archived from the
original on July 22, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
Bobby Petrino reaches out. ESPN.com. July 18, 2012
Joe Schad (2012-08-10). "
Bobby Petrino Sorry For
Actions". Helena, Montana. 4:07 minutes in. ESPN. Missing or
empty series= (help)
Bobby Petrino emotional, regretful. ESPN.com. August 10, 2012
Bobby Petrino is new WKU football coach". WDRB 41 Louisville.
^ "Western Kentucky hires
Bobby Petrino as coach". FOX Sports on
Bobby Petrino hired as head coach of Western Kentucky Hilltoppers".
^ "Petrino accepts job, returns to Louisville". go.com. Retrieved 10
^ Katie Petrino Profile - Louisville Cardinals Official Athletic Site
Archived 2013-12-20 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Bobby Petrino: Beyond Football – The Arkansas Traveler".
Uatrav.com. 2010-10-27. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20.
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