Most everyone in Atlanta sees Bobby Petrino as King Rat, for good reason: He ran out — stop me if you’ve heard this already — on the Atlanta Falcons after 13 games in 2007. Then he was fired by Arkansas for falling off a motorcycle that was also transporting a woman who wasn’t his wife. In sum, he’s not a contender for World’s Nicest Guy.
He is, however, among the better football coaches extant, and Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Petrino will be introduced as Louisville’s new coach — he was also Louisville’s old coach, having left the Cardinals in January 2007 to join the Falcons — on Thursday. Some people, perhaps most people, will see this as a case of a bad guy getting a second (or third, or fourth) chance he didn’t deserve. I see it as another instance of talent winning out.
And what, I ask, is coaching football if not a talent? Wherever he has gone as a collegiate head coach — Louisville, Arkansas, even in his one-year rehabilitation stint at Western Kentucky — he has won. (I maintain he’d have won with the Falcons had Michael Vick not been indicted.) The Cardinals were faced with having to replace a superb coach in Charlie Strong, who left for Texas. They wound up subbing out one of the two coaches to lead Louisville to a BCS bowl victory with the only other man who’d done it.
I’m not sure if we should applaud Petrino for this latest bit of career advancement, but Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich deserves a hand. (Jurich is just about the best in the business, FYI.) There aren’t many schools that could lose a man as capable as Strong and find somebody just as skilled. And I’m guessing Jurich will be smart enough to include a no-motorcycle clause in Petrino’s latest contract.