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Louisville follows trend, trusts others more than it trusts itself

COMMENTARY — By bringing back Bobby Petrino as its football coach, the Cardinals went with the devil they knew rather than a devil they didn't know.
by Berry Tramel Published: January 14, 2014

Bobby Petrino is back as the football coach at Louisville, and it's no mystery why.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.

Petrino's foibles are many. At Louisville 10 years ago, Petrino interviewed for the Auburn job while the Auburn job was still quite capably held by Tommy Tuberville. Indeed, Tuberville would coach Auburn to a 13-0 season a year later. While coaching the Atlanta Falcons, Petrino walked out on his team with two games left in the season to take the Arkansas job. At Arkansas, Petrino lied to his bosses about a motorcycle crash with his mistress aboard, the same mistress for whom he had arranged a job in the football office.

Good thing the Ohio River flows hard through Louisville. Rats need a place to rest, too.

Why would Louisville trust such a man with something as obviously valuable as the university's football program? Because the 'Ville knows exactly how this will go. Petrino will win big — he won big at Louisville and Arkansas — and it will end in scandal. It always ends in scandal.

Louisville is an extreme example of the current lot of college football. Trusting others more than you trust yourself. Put your faith in the track record of what coaches have accomplished. Let others experiment with new blood. Louisville hired someone it can't trust because it doesn't trust itself.

So far this offseason, 12 of the 18 head-coaching hires jumped from other head-coaching jobs. The six schools that have hired assistants are Arkansas State, Connecticut, Florida Atlantic, Massachusetts, Miami-Ohio and Western Kentucky. And UMass hired Mark Whipple, who had previously been the Minutemen's coach.

Look at the good jobs available. All went to established head coaches. Texas hired Louisville's Charlie Strong. Southern Cal hired Washington's Steve Sarkisian. Washington hired Boise State's Chris Petersen. Penn State hired Vanderbilt's James Franklin. Louisville hired Petrino.

Rarely do the good jobs go to an assistant. Oregon is a notable exception; the Ducks promoted Chip Kelly in 2009, then promoted Mark Helfrich in 2013. Oregon seems to be doing OK.

Texas Tech was the next-best job that went to an assistant, Kliff Kingsbury.

Same in 2012. Pitt hired Wisconsin assistant Paul Chryst. Penn State hired NFL assistant Bill O'Brien. Props to the Nittany Lions.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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