Category Archives: Fall and Rise of Bobby Petrino

PAWWWLLL, when’s he coming back to the SEC?

Epic programming today…

Wonder how Finebaum poses his question about Grantham’s contract.

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Filed under Fall and Rise of Bobby Petrino, PAWWWLLL!!!

Some post-Grantham thoughts

Rumor has it that the towel is holding out for a three-year guaranteed contract.

A variety of thoughts that popped into my head after learning the news that Georgia’s in the market for a new defensive coordinator:

  • The contract.  Seriously, can anybody blame Grantham for jumping at a five-year, $5 million guaranteed deal?  Hell, if he hadn’t taken it, I’d have questioned his judgment.  There’s no way Georgia would match an offer like that and I doubt Grantham even asked.
  • The timeline.  Pretty damned fast, I’d say.  Petrino was officially named Louisville’s head coach on Thursday.  He first offered the DC job to Alabama’s Kevin Steele, who initially, according to reports, accepted and then changed his mind and declined.  Petrino and Grantham made contact on Saturday, per Greg McGarity.  It’s a done deal the next day.
  • The initiator.  The $64000 question we’ll probably never get an answer to is who reached out to whom first.  And I’d sure like to know, for a couple of reasons.  Is Petrino that impressed with Grantham’s run at Georgia?  Or was Grantham perhaps being proactive in response to “that talk” with Mark Richt?  The size of the contract and the fact that Grantham was telling recruits after Lakatos’ departure that he was busy looking for a replacement make me lean in Petrino’s direction, but the speed with which the two came together would argue in favor of Grantham letting Petrino know that he might be in play with the right offer.  It’s a mystery unlikely to be solved.
  • Nepotism, for the win?  I’m not sure how much this came in to play, but one thing’s for sure.  It’s a helluva lot easier to hire your brother to coach at Louisville than it is at Georgia.
  • Rodney Garner.  Twice Richt called on Garner to hold things together when the defensive staff was in transition.  On both occasions, Garner came through.  On the other hand, there’s been plenty of chatter over the years about Garner being a sticking point with certain occupants/would be occupants of the coordinator spot.  This time, he ain’t around to make a difference either way.  Which leads to…
  • Recruiting.  The early response from recruits hasn’t been too troubling – anywhere from no difference to wait-and-see mode is manageable.  In any event, this is the worst reason in the world to rush into a hiring decision.  I expect Richt is smart enough to know that.
  • The hiring process.  Richt claims that he’s already had a fair amount of interest expressed in the position and I have little reason to doubt that.  It’s an attractive job.  There is plenty of returning talent, with a good class coming in this season if the staff can hold things together.  And the position coach opening in the secondary gives anyone coming in a leg up on shaping the defensive staff.  My gut tells me that it won’t take as long to hire somebody as it did when Richt replaced Martinez.
  • Greg McGarity.  He won’t be micromanaging the hire, but you can be damned sure he’s in control of the contract parameters.  Georgia isn’t as desperate to attract top coaching talent as Louisville, so it won’t be necessary to lay out the same kind of deal that Grantham got to land a qualified replacement, but this is the SEC and you’re not going to get your guy without a competitive offer, which makes it hard for me to see how Richt gets his man for much less than what Grantham was getting while in Athens.  This part of the play is going to be interesting to watch, to say the least.
  • Kirby Smart.  If I had to guess, this is the hire that would please the fan base the most, but it’s hard to see how this happens without a bunch of people taking a deep breath before taking the plunge.  There are some burned bridges after what happened the last go ’round.  And after watching Alabama’s defense flounder against HUNH offenses as much as Georgia’s did in 2013, I’m not so sure this is the slam dunk that those arguing in favor of it believe it to be.  Still, if the rumors are true about Orgeron coming to Tuscaloosa, I wonder if Smart might see the Georgia job as an opportunity to really be in control of the defensive staff and a step up.  It would admittedly be nice to see his recruiting talents come to Athens.  But I question whether McGarity is up to the salary requirements (not to mention what he’d likely have to do for Bobo, as well).
  • The rest of the field.  There are plenty of good choices out there.  Richt’s not close-minded about hiring, as indicated by the process last time.  But you wonder what he might have to promise these days to get a slam dunk hire.  I guess we’re about to find out how good Georgia is in attracting top flight coaching talent in the new world of exploding assistant salaries.

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UPDATE:  Seth Emerson’s analysis is worth a read.  Particularly this:

Did Richt let Grantham leave? It’s probably comparable to when Rodney Garner left after last season: Both were welcome back. But when they had a better offer, Richt (and Greg McGarity) said, essentially: Good luck to ya.

By comparison, if Mike Bobo had come to his bosses with a $1 million offer to run another team’s offense, the bet here is Richt and company would have fought to keep him.

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UPDATE #2:  Chip Towers sheds some light on a question I thought would remain murky.

So now we’re left with the chicken-and-the-egg question. Is this something that Richt initiated or is it something that just happened? There’s evidence on both sides of the equation.

Consider the timeline:

  • Richt meets with AD Greg McGarity for his end-of-year review on Thursday morning.
  • Thursday evening, UGA announces the resignation of Lakatos.
  • On Saturday, Grantham informs McGarity that Bobby Petrino wants to talk to him about Louisville’s defensive coordinator position.
  • On Sunday, news breaks that Grantham has accepted the Cardinals $5 million offer.

Here’s what I think: I believe the Lakatos resignation was going to happen anyway. There is some validity to the “personal reasons” the fourth-year assistant cited and clearly the Bulldogs needed to address the shortcomings at that position.

As for Grantham, I happen to know that he had no plans whatsoever to leave Georgia as of Friday night. Louisville swooped in fast-and-furious on Saturday. But the Cardinals’ lucrative offer left the Bulldogs no choice.  [Emphasis added.]

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Quite an offseason we’re having.

Holy.  Shit.

What was that some of you were saying about nobody wanting Richt’s staff?

Also, if I remember correctly, Grantham has to give McGarity notice if he wants to talk with somebody else, so I presume we’re past that step.

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“I said, If you lie to me, I’ll kill you.”

I find myself fascinated by the pundit class’ reaction to the Petrino hire, particularly the lesson we’re supposed to take from it.  Here’s Andy Staples, in a piece titled “Louisville hired Bobby Petrino to win, not because he’s changed”, for example:

All Jurich needed to say on Thursday was this: “This is a results-oriented business, and Bobby Petrino, more often than not, achieves the desired result. I didn’t hire him to be a good husband or to tell the truth. I didn’t hire him to graduate players or to mold men. I hired him to win football games. If he does that, he’ll probably leave for a better job even though we wrote a $10 million buyout into his contract. If he doesn’t do that, I’ll fire him.”

This is what every athletic director should say when he hires a coach, because it’s the truth. All that mess about integrity and graduation rates that ADs and presidents spout when they hire a coach? They never seem to mention any of it when they fire them after consecutive 5-7 seasons.

Andy’s piece is better thought out than most I’ve read, but I still find this whole “it’s proof that college football is about winning” reasoning a bit pat.  All ADs hire head coaches because they want to win, don’t they?   (If they didn’t, eventually they’d become former ADs.)  And even questioning whether Petrino’s moral compass is finally pointing true north doesn’t really fill in all the gaps. You can find plenty of examples of questionable college hires before this one – hell, just go back more than one stop on Petrino’s resume, or, closer to home, Georgia’s hire of Jim Harrick.

No, I think what really gets me about this is the underlying quick fix nature of the hire.  Implicit in Staples’ reasoning is that nobody, including the guy who just hired him – excuse me, rehired him – will be surprised in the slightest if a rehabilitated Petrino scoots for greener pastures.  Again.  (I use the word “rehabilitated” only in the loosest, on the field sense.)

Louisville is one of college football’s better off programs.  It’s now a member of a major conference.  It’s paying big bucks to its big program coaches.  And taking a risk on a guy who’s perceived in all corners as an even bet to leave after three or so years if things break right for him is the best Tom Jurich can do?  Staples says Jurich is one of the sharpest ADs in the country.  What in the world does that say about the rest of his peers?

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UPDATE:  Also, some lies matter more than others if you want to be a college football coach.

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Louisville roundup

Until somebody hires Junior, the Petrino story is the most enjoyable thing to follow in the world of college football right now.  A few tidbits that caught my eye yesterday:

  • Garrick McGee, who was Petrino’s offensive coordinator at Arkansas, is a real chip off the block.  He quit as head coach at UAB to rejoin Petrino as Louisville’s offensive coordinator.  The kicker is that he did it without telling his players.  Talk about learning from the master!  I wonder if he left them a note in their lockers.
  • McGee isn’t the only coach from the state of Alabama joining Petrino’s staff.  Kevin Steele is leaving Nick Saban to become Louisville’s new defensive coordinator.  Between Steele and Clint Hurtt, who’s laboring under a two-year NCAA show cause penalty, Petrino’s got some real recruiting firepower.  Which, given the circumstances, can’t hurt.
  • The funniest thing I saw were a number of tweets lamely defending Louisville’s AD, Tom Jurich, as a smart man.  Paying Petrino, damaged goods, $3.5 million per year doesn’t strike me as particularly sharp.  This, however, does:

You know who the smartest person is in all of this? Western Kentucky athletic director Todd Stewart. When he hired Petrino last year, he had no illusions. He knew who Petrino was, and knew he was only going to use the Hilltoppers job to rebuild his resume so he could get a better one. So he built into the contract a buyout clause: $850,000 a year for four years, with a $1.2 million buyout. If someone wanted Petrino bad enough, they’d pay the buyout. Petrino’s restless feet didn’t even keep him in Bowling Green for one year, which means that not only did Stewart get an eight-win season out of Petrino, but Western Kentucky will actually make a profit off Petrino’s salary alone. Petrino was their coach for one season, and WKU was paid $350,000 for the privilege. Now that’s understanding what you’re in for when you hop in the boat with the snake.

On top of that, I believe Louisville is obligated to play a home and home with WKU as a result of hiring Petrino.  Nicely played, Mr. Stewart.

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UPDATE:  Steele changes his mind.

I bet Bobby Petrino hates when that happens.

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Trust is a wonderful thing.

Apparently this was said without a trace of irony.

I hope Jurich and Petrino start out their presser looking at each other and bursting into uncontrollable laughter.  And then leave.

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This time will be different. Totally.

If the rumors are true, I can’t help but think that Louisville is setting itself up for the most massive “I told you so” in the history of college athletics.

The cherry on top of the speculative sundae would be if Jeff Long were to rehire Petrino one day should Bielema fail to work out.  Blogger heaven!

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“He’s never been fired for his coaching.”

So, Bobby Petrino’s daddy says sonny boy would like another chance, Louisville.  The job has always had a special place in his mercenary heart.

“He told me this weekend he would like the opportunity to coach at Louisville again,” Bob Sr. said by telephone on Monday. “He said that he’s been everywhere, the NFL and everywhere else, and he said probably the biggest mistake he’d ever made as a coach was leaving Louisville.”

“Probably”?  Hmm… what else is in the running?

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Thursday morning buffet

Life goes on and the buffet line is open.

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Filed under College Football, Fall and Rise of Bobby Petrino, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football

Remember this day.

August 22, 2013.  It’s the day that marks the first appearance of the Bobby Petrino, changed man meme.

Well, at least the latest version of said meme.

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