There is a lot of hand-wringing this morning about whether Western Kentucky did the “right thing” by hiring Bobby Petrino as its football coach. My take: Of course it did.
Petrino wasn’t the right coach for Kentucky or Tennessee or Auburn or Purdue or Colorado or any other BCS school. You should not suffer the fall from grace that Petrino suffered at Arkansas — a scandal in which most egregiously he skirted proper practices to hire his ex-mistress for a football staff position, and lied about it to his athletics director — and then quickly to a job in a major conference.
Western Kentucky is not in a major football conference. The Hilltoppers are still relative newbies to FBS football. They are trying to establish themselves and make a splash at the same time. They have done the latter, that’s for sure. The Petrino hiring was “the story” in college football on Monday and one of the bigger stories in all of sports.
The downside is the day-to-day dealings Petrino has put his bosses through on a regular basis. He is a man of limited people skills who knows football and not much else as far as social interactions. There are those at Arkansas who claim the Razorbacks’ collapse this year was in part borne out of Petrino’s lack of recruiting skills especially with regards to defensive players. There is still the question of whether the man can be trusted.
But he has always been one heck of a football coach. There are few in college football who own Petrino’s knack for game-planning and play-calling. And even if he lacks personal discipline, Petrino is a disciplinarian as far as his team is concerned. One of Steve Kragthorpe’s problems at Louisville was that the players viewed Petrino’s exit as a ticket to doing whatever they wanted whenever they wanted.
Does Petrino deserve a second chance? Of course, he does. We all do. I once heard legendary golfer Gary Player asked if Tiger Woods should be forgiven for his transgressions? Player didn’t hesitate. “Of course,” said Player. “It’s required.”
Western Kentucky wasn’t “required” to hire Bobby Petrino as its football coach, but its a good move.