One of the nation's best offensive minds is returning home.
University of Louisville Vice President/Director of Athletics Tom Jurich announced on Jan. 9 Bobby Petrino as the Cardinals' football coach. The Cardinals' head coach from 2003-06, Petrino led UofL to an unprecedented 41-9 record in four seasons on the sidelines and currently boasts an 83-30 record at the collegiate level.
During his time at Louisville, Petrino directed the program to a bowl game each year, but more significantly, guided the school to its first BCS victory - a 24-13 win over Wake Forest in the FedEx Orange Bowl. The 41 wins over that four-year span were the most in school history and featured an average margin of victory of 26.0.
He also showed the ability to develop players, as Petrino had 14 selected in the NFL Draft, including Amobi Okoye, who was the 10th overall selection in 2007 by the Houston Texans. Eric Wood, who was recruited by Petrino, was the 28th selection by the Buffalo Bills in 2009. Michael Bush, a fourth-round pick by the Oakland Raiders, amassed 2,514 rushing yards in three-plus seasons with the Cardinals.
Coupling his success at Louisville and Arkansas, Petrino has led his teams to seven bowl games in nine years, including both Louisville's and Arkansas' first BCS bowl games. His programs have achieved four 10-win seasons along with top-10 finishes nationally three times. His 2006 Louisville squad and 2011 Arkansas team concluded with No. 5 rankings in the Associated Press polls.
During Petrino's time at Louisville, he coached the Bronko Nagurski and Ted Hendricks Award winner Elvis Dumervil, who led the nation in sacks (20) and forced fumbles (10) on his way to earning All-America honors in 2006. During that same season, Bush scored 24 touchdowns and became the school's first 1,000-yard rusher since 1999.
While the head coach of three different programs, Petrino's offenses have compiled a 100-yard rusher on 99 occasions and a 300-yard passer 66 times over the last 15 seasons.
In four years at the helm of UofL's program, Petrino's offenses produced some of the greatest numbers in college football history. During his time, the Cardinals averaged over 34.0 points per game in all four years, including a best of 49.8 points per game in 2004. He also averaged 43.4 points per game in 2005. In 50 games at Louisville, Petrino's teams scored 30 or more points 36 times: 30 or more points eight times; 40 or more on 15 different occasions; and 50 or more points 13 times.
Petrino directed the Cardinals to their first BIG EAST title in 2006, Louisville's second year in the league. He guided that squad to a 12-1 record, which tied the 2013 squad for the most wins in school history. The Cardinals ended the year with their highest national ranking in school history, finishing No. 5 in the Associated Press poll and sixth in the USA Today poll. The Cardinals opened the year going 8-0, including a win over third-ranked West Virginia, and catapulted to as high as No. 3 in the nation.
Hired for the first time at Louisville in 2003, Petrino took the reins of a program that finished 7-6 a year prior and drove the school to a 9-4 mark that resulted in an appearance in the GMAC Bowl. Petrino became the first Louisville head coach to win nine games in their first season.
By the end of his first year, Petrino's team led the league and ranked among the nation's best in total offense, rushing, and scoring. The Cardinals ranked fifth in the nation in total offense (488.9), 10th in rushing (228.2), and 15th in scoring offense (34.6). Louisville set six Conference USA records, including the mark for total yards after the Cardinals racked up 779 yards, including 445 rushing yards, in a 66-45 win over Houston.
The 2004 campaign was one of the best in school history, with Petrino leading the Cardinals to an 11-1 record that culminated in a Conference USA title and a 44-40 Liberty Bowl over 10th-ranked Boise State. The Cardinals led the nation in total offense (539.0) and scoring offense (49.8), scored 50 or more points seven times and set an NCAA record by scoring 55 or more points in five straight games.
After a 9-3 season in 2005, Petrino took Louisville to an unprecedented level the following season, finishing with a 12-1 record and a 24-13 victory over Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl. The 12 wins were the most in school history, besting a previous high of 11 set during Petrino's second season.
During that particular 2006 season, Cardinals averaged over 37 points per game offensively, ranking fourth nationally in that category, while still limiting opponents to just over 16 points per game. Petrino's offense ranked second in the nation in total yards per game (475.3), while leading the Big East in passing offense (290.0) and first downs (296). Louisville jumped as high as No. 3 in the national polls during the season, finishing the year ranked sixth in the AP poll, posting three wins over top-15 teams, including third-ranked West Virginia en route to the program's first Big East title.
Prior to returning to Louisville, Petrino spent one season as head coach at Western Kentucky, where he helped WKU finish the regular season with an FBS school record eight wins while closing the season on a four-game winning streak. The team also set a new school record for total offense (5,502 yards) and passing first downs (141) in a season.
Before joining the Hilltoppers' program, Petrino spent four seasons at Arkansas where he led the Razorbacks to a 34-17 record, going 29-10 in his final three years, increasing his win total in each of his four seasons with Arkansas. In just his second season in Fayetteville, Petrino led Arkansas to an 8-5 record and its first bowl win since 2003, winning the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The success of the 2009 season propelled Arkansas into the national spotlight in 2010, as the Razorbacks went 10-3, earning a bid to the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Ohio State -- the program's first-ever BCS bowl bid. Petrino followed up the 2010 season with a remarkable 11-win campaign in 2011, matching the single-season school record. Arkansas closed out the year with a win over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl, boosting the Razorbacks into the No. 5 national ranking in the final AP poll.
Arkansas led the Southeastern Conference in passing offense (300.7) for the third consecutive year in 2011, while also leading the conference in total offense (438.1) and scoring offense (36.8). In Petrino's final two seasons at Arkansas, the Razorbacks went 13-1 at home, including a perfect 7-0 at home in 2011.
Overall, Petrino's four years at Arkansas resulted in a plethora of school records falling.
In 2008, the team broke eight school records and in 2009 it set or matched 26 individual or team records.
In 2010, the Razorbacks set or matched 48 individual or team records, while 2011 saw 24 more records fall. On the individual stage, tight end D.J. Williams claimed the school's first-ever John Mackey Award in 2011, given annually to the nation's top tight end. Petrino also coached quarterback Tyler Wilson to first team All-SEC honors in 2011, becoming the first Arkansas quarterback to earn that honor. Kick returner Joe Adams was the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year in 2011, while also being one of five finalists for the 2011 Paul Hornung Award. Adams was recognized as an All-American following the 2011 season, and was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Developing student-athletes has been a constant for Petrino, as he has worked with numerous players that have gone on to careers at the professional level, including an impressive track record developing quarterbacks. As a head coach, he helped develop quarterbacks such as Ryan Mallett (2008-10) at Arkansas and Stefan LeFors (2003-04) and Brian Brohm (2004-06) at Louisville. As a coordinator or assistant, he tutored Jason Campbell at Auburn (2002), Chris Redman at Louisville (1998), Jake Plummer at Arizona State (1993), and Doug Nussmeier (1990-91) and John Friesz (1989) at Idaho.
While his track record is proven developing quarterbacks, Petrino has also adhered to the philosophy of a balanced attack offensively. In his last 14 years as a collegiate coach, both as a head coach and as an offensive coordinator, Petrino's offenses have put together 86 100-yard rushers and 64 300-yard passers in 170 games during that 14-year span.
Prior to becoming Arkansas' head coach, Petrino was the head coach with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons in 2007 after spending four years as the head coach at Louisville.
Before earning his first head coaching job at Louisville in 2003, Petrino served one season as the offensive coordinator at Auburn in 2002. After one year at the helm of the Auburn offense, the Tigers went 9-4, including three wins over top-10 ranked opponents, and won a share of the SEC Western Division title.
Before his brief stint at Auburn, he coached three seasons in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars, coaching the quarterbacks in 1999 and 2000, and one season as the offensive coordinator in 2001.
In his first spell at Louisville, he served as the offensive coordinator for the Cardinals in 1998. In that one year, Louisville was the top-ranked NCAA Division I-A team in scoring and total offense. Under Petrino's tutelage, quarterback Chris Redman threw for a school-record 4,042 yards and 29 touchdowns while recording the biggest turnaround in the nation. The Cardinals improved from 1-10 in 1997 to 7-5 in 1998.
He served as the offensive coordinator at Utah State for three years (1995-97) before going to Louisville. While in Logan, Utah, he helped Utah State set school records by averaging 468.5 yards of total offense and 317.5 yards passing during the 1996 season. Prior to his arrival, USU averaged just more than 300 yards per game in total offense. In 1996, the Aggies also racked up a school-record 273 first downs, an average of nearly 25 first downs a game.
In 1994, he served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Nevada. The Wolf Pack ranked second in the nation in passing (330) and total offense (500) per game, and was third in the nation with 37.6 points a game. During his one-year stint at Nevada, the Wolf Pack boasted 10 100-yard rushing performances and six 300-yard passing efforts. Nevada posted a 9-2 record and won a share of the Big West title.
In 1992 and 1993, he was Arizona State's quarterbacks' coach, where he assisted in the development of future All-American and NFL star Jake Plummer. While with the Sun Devils, Petrino also worked with then-ASU quarterback and former UA offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee.
Prior to his two years at Arizona State, he was the quarterbacks coach (1989) and offensive coordinator (1990, 1991) for three seasons at Idaho. He was the wide receivers coach at Weber State in 1987 and 1988.
Petrino literally grew up in the coaching profession. His father, Bob Petrino Sr., coached at Carroll College in Helena, Mont., for 26 seasons, earning 163 victories and 15 conference titles.
Petrino officially started his coaching career as a graduate assistant for his father at Carroll College in 1983. After a graduate assistant stint as quarterbacks coach at Weber State in 1984, Petrino returned to be the offensive coordinator for his father in 1985-86. Carroll had the top-ranked offense in the NAIA ranks in both of his seasons, thanks in large part to the play of Bobby Petrino's younger brother, Paul, who was a four-year starter at quarterback at Carroll College.
Before Bobby Petrino coached for his father, he played football for him at Carroll. Petrino played quarterback and twice earned NAIA All-America honors. He led the Fighting Saints to three straight Frontier Conference championships and was named the league's most valuable player in 1981 and 1982. He also played four years of basketball at Carroll. Petrino earned a bachelor's degree in physical education with a minor in mathematics from Carroll in 1983.
The Bobby Petrino File
Born: March 10, 1961
Hometown: Helena, Mont.
College: Carroll College, 1983 (B.A., Physical Education)
Children: Kelsey, Nick, Bobby and Katie
Grandchildren: Granddaughter Brianna and grandson Braylon