Courtesy: Athletic Communications
Bobby Petrino wasted little time showing Razorback fans and the rest of the college football world why he ranks among the most successful coaches in the nation. In just four seasons at the University of Arkansas, Petrino has become the only head coach in history to lead two different schools to their first BCS appearance. In addition, Coach Petrino has guided the Razorback program to its place among the nation's elite as Arkansas has been ranked in the top 10 in each of the last 10 BCS rankings dating back to 2010.
Coach Petrino's fingerprints on the Razorback football program are easily recognizable. His commitment to an aggressive offensive approach, execution, balance, discipline and the sound principles of defense and special teams have clearly taken hold at Arkansas.
The Razorbacks have increased their win total in each of Coach Petrino's four seasons. In 2008, Arkansas played 16 true freshmen and ended the season with a thrilling 31-30 victory over LSU to finish with five victories. The foundation had been laid for Arkansas to post an 8-5 record in 2009, including the first bowl victory for the Razorbacks since 2003 as UA defeated East Carolina the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, 20-17 in overtime. The 2010 season resulted in the first BCS game in school history as Arkansas earned a bid to the Allstate Sugar Bowl to play Ohio State and finished the year 10-3. The 2011 season was one of the most memorable in school history. Arkansas finished the year with an exciting 29-16 victory over Kansas State in the AT&T Cotton Bowl to finish the season 11-2. The victory total matched the single-season school record (1964, 1977) and the team finished No. 5 in the final AP poll, marking the fourth top five finish in school history and first since 1977. The Razorbacks also went undefeated at home (7-0) and led the SEC in passing offense (300.7) for the third straight year, total offense (438.1) and scoring offense (36.8) becoming just the fifth different school to lead the league in all three categories in a single season.
In his four seasons at Arkansas, Petrino's dynamic approach has resulted in record-breaking performances by the Razorbacks. In 2008, the team broke eight school records and in 2009 it set or matched 26 individual or team records. The 2010 season was more of the same as the Razorbacks set or matched 48 individual or team records and 2011 saw 24 more records fall. In addition, the Razorbacks returned to the national college football awards circuit as D.J. Williams was named the first John Mackey Award winner in school history, the Disney Spirit Award winner and a finalist for the AAU James E. Sullivan Award in 2010. In 2011, quarterback Tyler Wilson became the first quarterback in school history to be named first-team All-SEC and kick returner Joe Adams was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year and one of five finalists for the Paul Hornung Award.
On Dec. 11, 2007, Petrino was named the 30th head coach in Razorback football history. The announcement marked Petrino's return to college football, the very landscape that put him on the coaching map. Long before his first game as head football coach at Arkansas, Petrino's positive impact on a tradition-rich Arkansas program and passionate Razorback fan base was abundantly evident. From the boisterous welcome offered from assembled fans at a late-night nationally televised press conference announcing his hiring to the record attendance numbers at Razorback Clubs in all corners of the state, there was no question that Petrino's arrival in Fayetteville energized and unified the state behind their beloved Razorback football program.
Petrino's collegiate head coaching resume includes leading his teams to seven bowl game appearances, including a victory in the Bowl Championship Series' 2006 FedEx Orange Bowl in his ultra-successful four-year tenure at the University of Louisville.
Petrino's college experience included stops at Arizona State University, the University of Nevada, Utah State University and Auburn University. His NFL coaching tenures came with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Atlanta Falcons.
Petrino's reputation for engineering high-octane and quick-strike offenses is well deserved. His teams consistently rank among the nation's best in total offense and scoring. Mistakenly perceived as a coach that focuses primarily on the passing game, the reality is Petrino adheres to the philosophy of balance between offensive production on the ground and through the air. Consider that in the last 14 years of his college coaching career - spent as a head coach, an offensive coordinator or both, - Petrino's offenses boast 86 100-yard rushers and 64 300-yard passers. That equates to 150 defining offensive individual performances in 170 total games.
In his coaching career, Petrino has worked with numerous players who went on to play professionally, including an impressive list of NFL quarterbacks. As a head coach, he helped develop quarterbacks 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.
Prior to his tenure as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons during the 2007 season, Petrino coached four seasons (2003-06) at Louisville.
In 2006, Petrino guided the Cardinals to a 12-1 record, including a 24-13 win over nationally ranked Wake Forest in the BCS FedEx Orange Bowl. Louisville vaulted to as high as No. 3 in the polls during the season and finished with a final No. 6 national ranking in the Associated Press poll, the highest all-time ranking in school history. Louisville had three victories over top-15 ranked teams, including wins over No. 15 Miami (31-7), No. 3 West Virginia (44-34) and No. 12 Wake Forest (24-13). The 12 victories also set a new school mark, breaking a record Petrino had held in part previously with 11 wins in 2004. The Cardinals won their first Big East Conference title, ranked second in the nation in total yards (475.3 yards per game) and fourth in the nation in scoring offense (37.8 points per game). Louisville also led the Big East in pass offense average (290.0) and first downs (296).
In 2005, Petrino led Louisville into the Big East Conference and guided the Cardinals to a 9-3 record and their first New Year's Day Bowl game since 1991. Louisville ranked ninth in the nation in total offense (482.1) and third in the nation in scoring offense (43.4). The Cardinals scored at least 30 points in 11 of 12 games, including eight games of more than 40 points, four games of 50 or more points and three 60-point outings. Seven Cardinals earned All-Big East honors in the school's first year in the league, including Bronko Nagurski and Ted Hendricks Award winner Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil led the nation in sacks (20) and forced fumbles (10) on his way to consensus All-America honors. Running back Michael Bush led the nation in scoring (14.4), scored 24 touchdowns and became the school's first 1,000-yard rusher since 1999.
Petrino's 2004 Louisville team went 11-1, won the Conference USA championship and beat No. 10 Boise State in the Liberty Bowl, 44-40, to end the season ranked No. 7. The Cardinals led the nation in total offense (539.0) and scoring offense (49.8), surpassed 40 points nine times, scored 50 points seven times and set an NCAA record by scoring 55 or more points in five straight games.
The groundwork for the record-setting success to come was laid in Petrino's first season as a head coach at Louisville in 2003. Taking over a team that had finished 7-6 the season before, Petrino guided the Cardinals to a 9-4 record and a GMAC Bowl berth. The nine wins were the most by a first-year Louisville coach. It didn't take long for Petrino to set the tone in his first collegiate coaching stint. In his first career game as a head coach, Petrino led Louisville to a 40-24 win over arch rival Kentucky. Louisville 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) in Petrino's inaugural season. Louisville set six Conference USA records including the mark for total yards after the Cardinals raked up 779 yards, including 445 rushing yards, in a 66-45 win over Houston.
Prior to Louisville hiring him as head coach, Petrino served one season as the offensive coordinator at Auburn in 2002. In his one season with the Tigers, Auburn went 9-4, including three wins over top-10 ranked opponents, and won a share of the SEC Western Division title.
Before Auburn, he spent three seasons in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was the quarterbacks coach in 1999 and 2000, and the offensive coordinator in 2001.
In his first stint at Louisville, he was the offensive coordinator for the Cardinals in 1998. In that one season, Louisville was the top-ranked NCAA Division I-A team in scoring and total offense while recording the biggest turnaround in the nation. The Cardinals improved from 1-10 in 1997 to 7-5 in '98.
The Helena, Mont., native was 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 was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of 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 the quarterbacks coach at Arizona State 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 (current head coach at UAB).
Prior to his two years at Arizona State, he was the quarterbacks coach (1989) and offensive coordinator (1990 & 1991) for three seasons at the University of Idaho. He was the wide receivers coach at Weber State in 1987 and 1988.
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.
Born March 10, 1961, Petrino and his wife, the former Becky Schaff, have four children: Kelsey, Nick, Bobby and Katie. Coach Petrino has a granddaughter (Brianna) and a grandson (Braylon).