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Bobby Petrino (born in Lewistown, Montanamarker) is an American college football coach and the current head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. He previously served a majority of the 2007 season as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and four seasons at the University of Louisvillemarker. Petrino is considered by many to be one of the most innovative offensive minds in the college game today.

Early years

Petrino grew up in Helena, Montanamarker, and graduated from Capital High in 1979. He attended hometown Carroll College, graduating with degrees in math and physical education in 1983. While at Carroll College he played quarterback and he began his coaching career there as a graduate assistant during the 1983 season. The next year he moved to Weber State Collegemarker in the Big Sky Conference, coaching quarterbacks as a graduate assistant under head coach Mike Price. Petrino returned to his alma mater in 1985 as offensive coordinator. In each of his two seasons in that position, Carroll had the top-rated offense in NAIA football.

College coaching career

Petrino became a full-time assistant in the Division I ranks as wide receivers and tight ends coach at Weber Statemarker in 1987. In 1989 he moved to the University of Idahomarker, spending a year as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator under head coach John L. Smith. In 1992 he took a step up the coaching ladder when he became quarterbacks coach at Arizona Statemarker. During his two seasons at ASU, he oversaw the development of future All-American and former NFL QB Jake Plummer.

In 1994 he moved to Nevadamarker, serving as both offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. During his one season there, the Wolf Pack was second in the nation in both passing offense and total offense, and third in scoring offense. The next year he began a three-year stint as offensive coordinator at Utah State under John L. Smith.

Bobby Petrino at a Louisville practice.
Petrino arrived at University of Louisville in 1998 as offensive coordinator, following Smith. In his one season there, the Cardinals were top-ranked in Division I-A in scoring and total offense and posted the biggest positive turnaround among I-A football teams, winning six more games than in the 1997 season. Petrino left the collegiate ranks for three years. His place at Louisville was filled by Scott Linehan.

In 2002, Petrino returned to the college ranks, replacing Noel Mazzone as offensive coordinator under Tommy Tuberville at Auburnmarker, whose offense significantly improved that season. He returned to Louisvillemarker in 2003 as head coach, and has since burnished his reputation as one of the top offensive minds in football.

On July 13, 2006, Petrino signed a 10-year, $25.6 million contract with Louisvillemarker to stay on as head football coach. The deal gave Petrino a raise from $1 million to $1.6 million annually, and he would have been paid $2.6 million in the final year of the deal. The contract was an effort by the university to put an end to the annual wooing of its football coach. During his tenure at Louisville, Petrino talked with Auburn, LSUmarker, and the NFL's Oakland Raiders before finally leaving the Cardinals in January 2007 to accept an offer from the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.

On December 11, 2007, Petrino resigned as head coach of Atlanta Falcons and took the head coaching position at the University of Arkansasmarker. The Razorbacks ended the season with a record of 5-7 (2-6 in the SEC); The two conference wins were over Auburn, and a last second win against LSU in the annual Battle for the Golden Boot.

The Razorbacks under Bobby Petrino have shown significant improvement in the current, 2009-10 season, with analysts from both ESPN and CBS regularly citing starting quarterback Ryan Mallett as one of the most impressive collegiate quarterbacks in the country. Currently 7-4, the Razorbacks came close to upsetting the #1-ranked University of Florida Gators on October 19, 2009. That game culminated in a controversial 4th quarter personal foul call on an Arkansas lineman (giving the Gators a 15-yard penalty on their game-winning drive). The SEC ultimately issued an apology for the call, suspending the referee crew in question.

College head coaching record

Pro coaching career

Petrino's first stint in the NFL was 1999-2001, as he spent two seasons as the quarterbacks coach and a third as offensive coordinator with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Petrino was praised as an offensive mastermind. Tom Coughlin, then head coach of the Jaguars, called Petrino β€œthe best play-caller I've ever been around.”

After five seasons as a college assistant and head coach, Petrino returned to the NFL on January 7, 2007, accepting an offer to become the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. His contract in Atlanta paid him $24 million over five years. The NFL Network reported that a clause in Petrino's contract with Louisville required him to pay the school $1 million for failing to honor his 10 year commitment to the school.

Despite declaring his intentions to return in 2008 for his second year as coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Petrino resigned his position in Atlanta to succeed Houston Nutt as the Arkansas Razorbacks head coach. He was heavily criticized for resigning before the end of the season and for notifying Atlanta Falcons players through a note of explanation left in the locker room.

For his lack of success in his 13 games with the Falcons, Petrino was featured at #1 in the NFL Network program NFL Top 10 under the topic "Coaches Who Belonged in College".

Pro head coaching record

Year Team Overall Finish Playoffs
2007 Atlanta Falcons 3–10 4th NFC South  


Petrino is the subject of criticism as a "job-hopper", having served as head coach of three organizations over a span of six years (Louisville, the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, and Arkansas), and having discussions to serve in three others (Auburn, LSU, and the NFL's Oakland Raiders). He was particularly lambasted by the sports media for leaving the Falcons with three games remaining in his first season with the organization, a day after coaching the Falcons to a 34-14 loss to the New Orleans Saints.


Petrino is married to Becky Schaff and the couple has four children: Kelsey, Nick, Bobby, and Katie.


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