Most people—including a sizable majority of my fellow Alabama fans—believe that Bobby Petrino will somehow redeem himself and soon get another opportunity to coach a major college football team. His offensive schemes are too good and he’s been a winner everywhere he’s been at the college level. Guys with credentials like his are just too hard to overlook. Yes, Petrino the man is a character risk but Petrino the coach may make some program willing to take a shot.
With coaching hotseats warming in Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee, there has been a natural rise in the chatter level over Petrino’s chances of returning to the SEC. Arkansas will also likely replace their interim coach, but that door is permanently closed.
The chatter coming from fans of two of the potential candidates (you can probably guess which two) seem to believe that Alabama will somehow pull strings at the SEC office and keep their program from hiring Petrino.
It’s some serious tinfoil hat stuff.
Like most conspiracy theories, this whole notion falls apart when cast in the light of logic and truth.
Petrino was the head coach at Arkansas. That is the only SEC program in a state of about 3.0 million. It is by far the most powerful major college athletics program in that state, in much the same way that LSU dominates Louisiana, and there is no professional football in the state, much like the state Alabama. In Arkansas, UA is king.
That means they get the most donations, they’ve built the best facilities and get the best recruits. They have a long football tradition and have thrived in the SEC.
Yet in four years in Fayetteville, despite all of those resources, recruits and facilities, he went 0-4 against Alabama. His total record with the Razorbacks was 34–17 and 17–15 in the SEC.
In 2008, he lost 49-14 against Alabama at home. It was 35-7 in 2009. In 2010 he lost a close one 24-20. It was back to the blowout 38-14 in 2011. His combined score in those four tries; 146-55. We’ll take 37-14 every year.
Kentucky is a basketball school that keeps football around until November. If they hire Petrino, they’ll be a threat to Tennessee, South Carolina and Mizzou, but never an SEC East contender.
Tennessee is in a state not known for a strong recruiting base and facing some financial issues in the short term. But if they hired Petrino and somehow cobbled the money up to hire a staff, expect the same results that you saw at Arkansas, with annual losses to more physical teams.
Auburn has the disadvantage of being the second SEC program in a state with about 4.0 million. Alabama gets most of the fan following, with surveys perennially showing that football fans in the state holler ROLL TIDE by about a two-to-one margin. If Petrino couldn’t win consistently against powerhouses as the only dog in the state of Arkansas, what makes anyone believe he could do so at a school that’s in the shadow of Tuscaloosa?
Petrino may be a heck of a coach. He may get his life in order and get back on the field. But don’t count on anything other than a “bring it on, y’all” from the Bama Nation. We don’t care where he goes.