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Louisville Considers Embattled Coach Bobby Petrino

by Christopher Smith
Jan 08, 2014 6:25 PM EST



Surely not, right? Bobby Petrino, generally despised by staff members, left the Atlanta Falcons after just 13 forgettable games, advising the players of the move in a widely panned letter, and forced Arkansas to push him away after a motorcycle crash revealed an affair with a 25-year-old assistant. But according to ESPN's Brett McMurphy, Petrino interviewed with athletic director Tom Jurich on Tuesday and is one of three finalists for the job. (Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi also is a candidate, CBS reported Tuesday, and would draw rave reviews without the baggage.) FootballScoop.com reports that multiple sources are indicating Petrino is a serious candidate and suggests that Jurich is "floating test balloons" to gague the reactions of the media and public. It would be a remarkable recovery for Petrino, who went 41-9 at Louisville in his first stint as a head coach, including two seasons in which the Cardinals finished in the AP Top 10. Petrino also went 34-17 at Arkansas, winning 21 games in his final two seasons, and went 8-4 at Western Kentucky this year. He certainly has produced results at the college level, his 3-10 NFL disaster aside, and may represent a creative way for Louisville to try to mitigate the losses of coach Charlie Strong and potential No. 1 overall pick and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Louisville also must contend with a transition to the ACC in 2014. Petrino's four-year deal with the Hilltoppers reportedly stipulates that he must repay the school $1.2 million if he leaves at any time during the contract. It's been a slow-developing but eventful season for college coaching changes. USC fired Lane Kiffin, did not retain interim coach Ed Orgeron and hired Steve Sarkisian from Washington, sending ripple effects through Boise State and Arkansas State. Penn State has an open position, and Texas just hired Strong after illogical but drawn-out rumors of Nick Saban leaving Tuscaloosa for Austin. Coaches have come back from sex scandals before, even at Louisville (see: Pitino, Rick), but Petrino's history is far more extensive. If Louisville consummates this deal with Petrino, it would add perhaps the most unexpected twist to the coaching shell game.