Since 2003, Bobby Petrino has been the head coach of five different football programs, including a brief stop in the NFL. He’s really at his fourth stop due to being the Louisville Cardinals retread, but Petrino is proving you really can go home again. This time he’s hoping to have the most successful tenure of any of his coaching stops.
On Thursday, Petrino signed a new contract worth $30.625 million over seven-years. That amounts to $4.35 million per year. It seems like an inordinate amount of money for a coach that is 17-9 since returning to the Cardinals. However, the Cardinals expect monumental seasons over the next couple of years.
Based on Petrino’s history, it better happen quickly or else the Cardinals might not see the returns. He hasn’t spent more than four years at any stop in his career. During his first stint with the Cardinals, Petrino was 41-9 in four seasons. Unfortunately, he’s already matched the losses the past two years. The first time he got the program rolling, Petrino bolted for the NFL. In less than a year, he was back on the college sideline.
During his four seasons with the Arkansas Razorbacks, Petrino had his only losing season in college football. However, he quickly built up the program into an SEC power. Shortly after winning 21 games in the 2010-11 seasons, Petrino short circuited his college coaching career for a second time.
A motorcycle accident unveiled a secret relationship between Petrino and his young assistant Jessica Dorrell. Soon after, Petrino was fired from Arkansas due to this improper relationship. ESPN detailed the spicy relationship and how it manifested itself. When the dust settled, Petrino was out of a job thanks to his proficient note taking and not disclosing the prior relationship.
In the moment, it seemed as though Petrino’s career would take a huge hit. However, he has bounced back nicely since his fall from grace with the Razorbacks. Of course Petrino missed the 2012 season, but was hired by Western Kentucky after a year-long hiatus. Within months, Petrino was back with the Cardinals coaching in the ACC.
Last season, Petrino made $3 million. His salary upgrade will make him the third highest paid coach in the ACC. According to CBS Sports, Petrino’s new salary will make him the 10th highest paid coach in college football based on last season’s metrics. Is it too much too soon?
Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich released a statement on the contract extension-
“I’m thrilled with the job that Bobby has done here, and it’s been great to have his wife Becky, their children and three grandchildren back in the city of Louisville,” said Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich.
“Their commitment to the community through the Petrino Family Foundation has been extremely successful in raising charitable funds and assisting our community. Bobby has done an excellent job reinforcing our commitment to academics and career development. He has exceeded my expectations on the field, especially closing last year with a win in the Music City Bowl over a talented Texas A&M team. I think the future of this program is extremely bright, and I’m excited that with this extension, Bobby has reinforced his commitment to the University of Louisville.”
The Red-White Spring Game is set for Saturday April, 16. The first month of the Cardinals’ season is extremely tough. They host the Florida State Seminoles in mid September and travel to Clemson on the first day of October. If they win those two games, the Cardinals could be in the running for a College Football Playoff spot. Based on Dabo Swinney’s shiny new $5 million per year contract, the Cardinals maybe getting a bargain if Petrino exceeds expectations next season.
They just hope to have Petrino still affiliated with the program by then. So far, he’s been as committed as he’s ever been to one program.