Petrino A Good Hire? – From the BIrd’s Nest
When I first saw the tweet from Chad Bishop of the Bowling Green Daily News (@MrChadBishop) I really thought it was either a prank or a rumor repeated. But I know Chad. He’s not one to play cute on twitter. So I took it as gospel.
Bobby Petrino was in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
And, a few hours later, he was the new head coach at Western Kentucky University.
Someone was going to hire Petrino. And, although he was mentioned at three different SEC schools, it wasn’t likely he would jump right into an AQ conference, especially not the SEC. Not this year anyway. He’d have to prove himself, not as a coach, but as a man, before anyone would pay him millions of dollars.
Because while Bobby Petrino the coach wasn’t in question, Bobby Petrino the man certainly was.
Those who follow college sports know the latest Petrino story. Had a position created within his department. Hired his mistress to fill the position. Motorcycle accident. Failed to tell his boss the mistress was riding with him until it was about to become public knowledge.
The part about the mistress is between Petrino and his wife. The rest of the Arkansas mess was another testament to Petrino’s character. Or lack of it.
There was the Petrino who walked out on the Atlanta Falcons 13 games into his first season and didn’t even bother to tell them. Hours later he was leading “whoo pic sooey” chants in Fayetteville.
Before Atlanta, he was at Louisville, where he tried to undercut more than one head coach in order to get a bigger job, all the while swearing to Louisville he was around for the long haul.
You see, the Bobby Petrino we know may not have been a repeat adulterer. But he certainly was a repeat liar. The Petrino we know is, simply put, not a good person.
But he’s one helluva football coach. Someone was going to give him a shot and hoped the remorseful, changed Bobby Petrino was for real and not just another lie.
It turned out the school was WKU.
Western Kentucky athletic director Todd Stewart and I are not strangers.
Before going to Western Kentucky, Stewart was an associate commissioner under Wright Waters at the Sun Belt Conference. He was good for the league and I was disappointed when he left, although I was glad he was remaining in the league.
When he was appointed Director of Athletics in May following the departure of Ross Bjork to Mississippi, I was happy for him. He was the senior associate under Bjork and had served as an assistant AD for media and communications at WKU before that.
If you want to know why WKU beat out Middle Tennessee for a berth in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, look no further than Stewart, who went out of his way to cultivate a relationship with bowl officials in Detroit rather than wait for the league to do his job for him. In fact, without Stewart’s tenacity, it’s possible WKU is sitting home for the second straight year and the wailing and gnashing of teeth in Murfreesboro would be non existent.
Stewart out-worked everyone. And his school got rewarded.
Western Kentucky lost a good football coach in Willie Taggart. It was Stewart’s job to find a replacement who could take what Taggart started and elevate it to another level.
Petrino has that capability. He also is capable of making Stewart and WKU a laughing stock.
One way or another, Petrino won’t spend a lot of time in Bowling Green. A year…two…maybe three tops (pardon the pun.) He’s inheriting plenty of talent from the Taggart regime. And, Petrino will win. The price of winning with Petrino is the question here.
Will he keep his head down, work hard, be the devoted family man he insists he is, be truthful and honest with everyone and not treat people as though they were all idiots? Or will he embarass himself, his family, WKU and, most of all, Stewart by being the Petrino we all know and mistrust?
If it’s the latter, Stewart becomes a laughing stock. And we all question why another college team would give (another) opportunity to keep bad people employed.
But if he’s right in his belief that Petrino has shown enough to deserve a second, er, third, er, fourth, er fifth chance, Todd Stewart will be a freaking genius.
Because make no mistake about it. Petrino will win.