As many of you heard, Bobby Petrino, previous coach of the Louisville Cardinals and now the Atlanta Falcons, decided to resign from his Falcons position—13 games into his first year—to become the head football coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Petrino’s abrupt decision came less than 24 hours after he coached the Falcons to a double-digit loss against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football; a move that left the beleaguered Arthur Blank grasping at straws.
Because of Petrino’s timing—his decision was effective immediately—and his nomadic history, reactions to the news ran the gamut from bliss (Arkansas fans) to surprise and truthfully, a lot of distaste (just about everyone else BESIDES Arkansas fans). Just about every major sports-related site had something up about the coaching change and besides the Razorbacks fans, user reaction was pretty negative.
We’ve compiled some of these reactions, good and bad, for your reading enjoyment:
Once word broke, ESPN ran with the news, televising Petrino’s press conference from Fayetteville, followed by as much player and analyst reaction as they could muster. ESPN senior write Pat Forde, previously of the Louisville Courier-Journal, offered a pretty scathing account of how Petrino will handle the Razorback fanbase. Of course, some of Forde’s displeasure could stem from when Petrino left Forde’s Louisville Cardinals for the Falcons job.
“The disingenuous drifter doesn’t love you or any other fan base. He doesn’t love any school or any NFL franchise. He loves himself, his playbook and his bank account.
That’s it. Don’t expect it to change.
Bobby Petrino will return your embrace, Hog fans. But while he’s hugging you he’ll be looking over your shoulder, scanning the terrain for his next hook-up.”
As expected, Forde’s vitriol did not fall on deaf ears. Over at the Arkansas portion of Rivals.com, Razorback message board denizens responded in kind. In thread titled, “Pat Forde is one ignorant SOB!!! He is obviously too lazy…” Hawg fans were not shy about calling Forde on his reaction, saying it stemmed from the bitterness he felt from Petrino leaving UofL. From poster Hogeye Pierce:
“Pat Forde is from Louisville and was a beat writer for the U of L. He obviously has some very bitter feelings toward Petrino. That is the main focus of the bombast he unloaded in his article. Hope he feels better now, but I doubt it.”
Followed by Boar Borygmus‘:
“In the article, Forde tells how he was one of the reporters who caught Petrino in a lie about pursuing a job. He probably thought ‘I’ve done it, I’ve achieved a sports reporter’s dream of taking down a big-time coach.’ The public shrugged and Petrino kept living a charmed life and now Forde is bitter and angry.”
Not to be outdone, fans of Petrino’s last jilted bride, the aforementioned Louisville Cardinals, had plenty to say as well (link goes to the Louisville Football Rivals message board). Over at the Card Chronicles blog, Mike simply offered:
“Are you kidding me Bob? You couldn’t have waited just one more year? Unbelievable.”
However, one of my favorite discussions came from the Inside The ‘Ville message board. Earlier during the day yesterday, an Arkansas fan wandered over and asked about Petrino as a coach and wondered what Card fans thought of him. This poster was greeted with responses like, “Never gonna happen” and “There is zero chance that CBP is going to coach Arkansas.” Of course, once the news got out, these reactions quickly changed, with some Cardinal fans adopting Forde’s seemingly jealous stance (masquerading as a warning).
The Atlanta media, especially at the AJC, ripped Petrino for what they described as abandoning a sinking ship, while pointing out the media’s negative reaction. Terence Moore chalked the decision—after accounts Petrino would stay with the Falcons—up to world of lies sports has become. Over at the Falcons blog, Falcoholic, they didn’t seem to take the news too hard, but they did agree with DeAngelo Hall, while offering these thoughts:
“Ignoring the obvious hypocrisy here, D-Hall has summed up my feelings about as perfectly as anyone could. I’m well aware that I’ve gone from supporting Petrino and excoriating D-Hall to the other way around, and I also don’t really care. If D-Hall is more inclined to come back because Petrino’s gone, there’s another good reason to say good riddance.”
It appears as if this is becoming a case of, “alls well that ends well.” With that in mind, I’ll leave you with some words from The Hog Blogger, the leading blog for all things Arkansas sports:
“For the second time in 2007, a coaching search that appeared to be dead in the water gave way to a hire that will pay dividends for years to come. This hire does a couple huge things:
1) It puts Arkansas football back in the national limelight… 2) To say it unites the fanbase is an understatement.”
He also has some thoughts for all those experiencing negative reactions.
“Now, to the jealous detractors warning Hog fans of Petrino’s indiscretions:
We. Do. Not. Care. Sure, Petrino may leave in 3-4 years. We have reasons to believe he won’t. Regardless, for the last few years it’s been very difficult to be 100% behind a program whose leader we couldn’t support. Now, that isn’t a problem. Going to games just got a whole lot more enjoyable. The offense is (eventually) going to be exciting, balanced, high-scoring, and a lot more fun to watch. That’s something we can get behind.”
Well, that’s a pretty long look at the reactions to Bobby Petrino taking the Arkansas job. Aren’t coaching changes just about the greatest fodder in the world for sports fans? Congrats to the Razorbacks. I can only hope they are satisfied with this hire and will be for a few years to come… although, with Petrino, you never know how long his tenure will last.
Just ask Arthur Blank.
Over at EDSBS, they have a brilliant take on how this whole thing went down. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was note-for-note accurate.