Who’s the most hated man in college football? Here’s a hint. He wins everywhere he goes. He finds talent in the most likely of places. He’s a genius when it comes to play calling. If you guessed Nick Saban, your dead wrong.
Very few coaches have had dedicated posts to everything that is wrong with them, but that hasn’t stopped SB Nation from shedding light on who they feel is a classless coach. Bobby Petrino has spent the better part of his coaching career surrounded by controversy. As the 2016 season ended, what should be a year of greatness for the Louisville Cardinals ended on a sour note surrounding the sense of fair play on the coaching staff’s part.
Sure, the crosshairs of the media finds itself squarely on a coordinator, but SB Nation can’t help but sense that this is just another in a long line of “shenanigans” perpetrated by the head coach. While they are quick to give Petrino his props on a solid career, 109-43 record, they can’t help but give their reasons to make him the most hated man in college football.
The trouble started for Petrino back in 2003. Just one year into his first tenure with the Cardinals, Petrino interviewed with boosters at Auburn. The problem was he did this behind the back of Tommy Tuberville, the coach who had hired him as offensive coordinator at Auburn. Nothing comes from it, but this painted Petrino to be willing to do anything to anyone to get what he wanted.
ESPN came out in 2007 and blatantly called him a liar.
“Petrino lied about having any contact with Auburn officials — until two reporters for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal confronted him with documentation of the private plane that brought the university president and athletic director into Petrino’s backyard. I was one of the two reporters. And even when faced with the evidence, Petrino resisted telling the truth until Auburn issued a statement owning up to the whole affair.”
Boxed into a corner, Petrino asked forgiveness and chalked it up to the inexperience of a “young coach.” Louisville forgave him because he was 9-3 and his offense blew up scoreboards.
With the Auburn fiasco left behind, Petrino inked a deal with Louisville that would keep him in Kentucky for 10 years, or so the school thought. Coach Petrino claimed that he was there to stay.
“We did want to make a statement. I also wanted to make sure that everyone understood – and I know I’ve said it – that this is where my family wants to be and where I want to be. But I want everyone to really believe it when it is said.”
Just six short months later, Petrino agreed to take over for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League. The Cardinals had just won their first BCS Bowl Game, the 2007 Orange Bowl.
As if being the most hated man in college football wasn’t enough, Petrino set his sights on not being content unless the entire football community thought ill of him. Before the end of his first miserable season as head coach in the NFL, Petrino walked out on the Falcons in favor of the college ranks again. In a midnight meeting, Petrino was announced as the next head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks after leaving a short note in the Falcons locker room to the players.
While his actions up to this point would more than solidify him as a villain, it was at Arkansas where Petrino saw his most public display of dastardliness. Coming off yet another trip to a high-profile bowl, Petrino was in a motorcycle accident. He had reported he was alone, but in fact, it was found out he was with his mistress whom he had hired over other qualified candidates in the Razorback athletic department.
Jeff Long, the athletic director, had no choice but to let him go. This left players including NFL running back Knile Davis in shock.
“We’ve put a lot of hard work over these last four years to get where we’re at. Just to see it go down the drain in 24 hours is just, you know, it hurts. But we can’t do anything but move forward.”
After sitting out a season, Petrino was hired at Western Kentucky. Despite a huge buyout, Petrino bolted for shockingly enough Louisville after just a single season.
With his past behind him and a Heisman Trophy winner at the helm, it would make sense that Petrino could finally rid himself of controversy. Unfortunately, while the Cardinals prepared for the Citrus Bowl, Petrino found himself knee-deep in allegations of unfair play. It surrounded their game with Wake Forest earlier in the season.
A Wake Forest game plan with special formations was found in the Louisville dressing room. It was presented to the offensive coordinator for Louisville. It turns out it was provided by a Wake Forest announcer. On Mike and Mike in the Morning, Bobby Petrino denied any knowledge of the plan despite the fact he works closely with the offense. SB Nation seems to think otherwise.
So, do you think that Bobby Petrino has earned the title of the most hated man in college football? Do you think he had any knowledge of what is being referred to as “Wakeyleaks,” or is it just a simple misunderstanding?
[Feature Image by Tyler Smith/Getty Images]