Posted: 10:33 a.m. Friday, Jan. 10, 2014
By Mike Rutherford
Tom Jurich and the University of Louisville made the right decision Wednesday by allowing Bobby Petrino to return to the sidelines, and in doing so chose headlines and scrutiny over any safe, but risky option. The truth hurts sometimes, and the truth is Petrino was head and shoulders the best coach available when Strong chose another college over the Cardinals. Bobby Petrino took this football program to unseen heights in his tenure, he left before the Cardinals could even approach their peak, and now, he has been given the opportunity to finish the job he was destined for.
Let us clear the air. When Bobby Petrino left Louisville in 2007, he left for the NFL, a great franchise, a supposed shoe in hall of fame quarterback, and a goal he had always wished to achieve. The NFL is the peak of professional sports and a financial Mt. Everest. There are only 32 positions available, and they are the most coveted and high pressured jobs in the coaching industry. Bobby Petrino not once attacked the fan base or belittled it, he did not cut and run due to looming NCAA penalties, he met with his players before departing, and he left our program stocked full of NFL talent and unlimited potential. I never once held ill will towards him, and always believed he was a top coaching talent and irreplaceable at Louisville.
Coach Petrino has made his fair share of mistakes professionally and personally, and he has certainly been humbled by his missteps. As a fan base and community we can only hope he has chosen to become a better person, as well as a leader and role model to 75 impressionable youth each and every season. There will be many who criticize Louisville and Tom Jurich for bringing back Bobby but there is only one appropriate response to such criticism. Ask yourself, and answer honestly, if countless fans, media members, witch hunters, and recording instruments followed you on a daily basis, how would your life play out on a national scale? Would your glorious reputation hold up against all odds?
The reality is Bobby Petrino chose to become a public figure, knowing full well his choices would always be on display for public commentary, but it doesn't change the fact that he is human like the rest of us and therefore imperfect. It is one of the oldest tales, given to us by the only perfect man who ever lived; he without sin shall cast the first stone. Bobby Petrino is not perfect, I certainly am not, Tom Jurich isn't (debatable), and each and every one of the seven billion other people on this planet aren't either. Get off of your high horse, or little pony, and give the man a chance to become a better coach, a better role model, and a better person.
Bobby Petrino's professional success was unrivaled in the coaching search. He is and was the best coach Louisville ever had the pleasure of watching, he went 41-9, and only lost one home game in his tenure. Bobby exceeded all expectations at Arkansas and proved his coaching style and offensive genius was plenty good enough to challenge the best of the best on a weekly basis in the SEC. He took Western Kentucky to an 8-4 season, and was unfittingly left out of bowl season. The ACC is a powerhouse conference, second only to the SEC currently, and is undeniably an offense first league. Petrino fits every need Louisville possessed and the talent remaining from the previous four seasons will be more than adequate to stare down Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles next fall.
It could be argued that these recent series of events were the results of Tom Jurich's master plans. He encouraged Petrino to chase greener pastures, waited for him to realize how special Louisville was, and now has welcomed Petrino back into the Louisville family where he belongs. The truth is you are either with the Cardinals and the University of Louisville or you aren't. Bobby Petrino does not have to be your saint or your role model, but it is human nature to forgive, it is human decency to hope for and see the best in people, and it is human choice to live one's life the best they possibly can. It is your choice, and certainly the path I will choose, to hope and believe Petrino's best times professionally and personally are in front of him, not behind. Bobby Petrino is my coach again, he is your coach again, he is our coach, and he is finally the Cardinal we always hoped he would be. Welcome back to the collision course Cardinal fans, and Bobby, finish what you started.
All Hail UofL !!