The Univ. of Louisville this morning formally introduced Bobby Petrino as its new football coach, and UL AD Tom Jurich defended bringing Petrino back for a second stint at the institution, saying, "I wouldn't do anything to put this school in harm's way." Petrino, who coached UL from '03-06 before leaving for the NFL's Falcons, was fired from the Univ. of Arkansas in '12 after having an affair with a female staffer. Petrino spent this past season coaching Western Kentucky, and Jurich said he spoke at length with WKU AD Todd Stewart before signing off on the hire to make sure Petrino had changed. Jurich said, "It better be a new guy, or I'm the one accountable." He added, "I think this was the most logical hire I could make" (THE DAILY). The Louisville Courier-Journal's Jeff Greer reports Petrino signed a seven-year, $24.5M deal, giving him an average annual salary of $3.5M. The contract includes a $10M buyout and a "morality clause" (TWITTER.com, 1/9).
RISK VS. REWARD: In Louisville, Tim Sullivan prior to the press conference wrote Jurich has "evidently determined that the potential rewards far outweigh the risks and that Petrino is sufficiently contrite and changed to make those risks manageable." Jurich is "surely braced for some backlash from us media moralists ... but he is also sufficiently experienced to see that criticism tends to taper off within days of a controversial decision." Sullivan: "Today's rage is tomorrow's resignation. And on the day after tomorrow, all that really matters to most people is results." If Petrino's hiring makes UL's "professed interest in 'class and integrity' ring hollow ... Jurich has acquired enough political capital to weather that storm" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 1/9). ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel writes he is "willing to give" Jurich a pass on Petrino. Jurich "hired Petrino at Louisville 11 years ago, the first head coaching position Petrino had at any level." Jurich "knows the man and Jurich knows what he is getting into" (ESPN.com, 1/9). Louisville-based WDRB-Fox' Rick Bozich wrote, "I'm not outraged. I'm not even surprised" (WDRB.com, 1/8).
WINNING IS EVERYTHING? SI.com's Stewart Mandel writes, "Now we're getting a better window into why Jurich's teams win so much." He "apparently cares about nothing else," because he "wouldn't possibly hire back Petrino" if he did (SI.com, 1/9). CBSSPORTS.com's Jeremy Fowler wrote, "Save a few winning seasons, nothing about the Bobby Petrino hiring is reflecting well." Winning "over everything" is the "sole message sent here." Winning is "all that matters, until that winning coach burns you." Fowler: "Jurich will probably get burned, too. Maybe he'll get a few wins before that happens" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/8). SI.com's Michael Rosenberg wrote Jurich will "apparently make two gambles: One on Petrino behaving, and the other on Louisville fans and alumni caring mostly about winning." The "latter is the safer bet" (SI.com, 1/8). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said UL fans "should feel somewhere between really sad and mortified, and also kind of morally bankrupt" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 1/8). CBS Sports Network's Tony Luftman said, “This is about character and character deficiencies. Bobby Petrino is morally bankrupt. This is a guy who, throughout his coaching career, has burned bridges” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 1/8).
THROW IN THE RED TOWEL: In Louisville, Jonathan Lintner reports Petrino per his contract with WKU "must 'use his best efforts' to schedule a two-game, home-and-home series between WKU and U of L." The series "must be scheduled within a year of his resignation at WKU, and the first game must be played within 12 years of that date." Petrino's contract shows that UL "will not owe the Hilltoppers money for the games." WKU has used "similar clauses within the last decade to schedule basketball games with Georgia when basketball coach Dennis Felton left and did the same with South Carolina and Darrin Horn." Petrino's contract states one game "must take place" on the WKU campus (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 1/9).