Monday, December 06, 2004

Feed the Studs | by Jay

And in our continuing series on the coaching carousel...

I dug up a couple of articles here and here on Bobby Petrino from the summer of '03, when he was just getting ready to kickoff his first season as a head coach. Some things I didn't know:

* He previously served as Louisville's offensive coordinator (1998). That year, L'ville led the nation in scoring at a 40.4 ppg clip.

* He is not necessarily a pass-first kind of guy, although he does clearly prefer a good passing game, with a strong running game to set it up ("First of all, we've got to be able to run the ball real well to take the pressure off the quarterback...") When he was Auburn's OC, he marshalled a powerful running attack, and mixed in passes as the running game became the focus of attention from opponents' defensive strategies. He seems to take the team's strengths (running or passing) and work from there, building towards a powerful, balanced offense. Petrino sums up his philosophy in three words: "Feed the studs."

* At the time, he was plenty excited to air it out at Louisville, with a special focus on "yards after the catch": fact, that receivers are under orders to run 40 yards after every catch, even if the whistle has blown. If they don't, Paul Petrino chases them, screaming to take the ball to the end zone. For the running backs, their orders are to run at least 20 yards on every carry. "We want those guys thinking about making the big play," Bobby Petrino said. "You want to make it a habit."
* He loves to talk to alumni, and he loves drumming up support for his program. He had one jag last summer where he went 14 straight days in a row with a scheduled speaking engagement. He seems to have zealously embraced those PR-type of duties that a coordinator doesn't have to deal with, but that are so crucial for a head coach trying to build a program.

* All that enthusiasm generated a tremendous amount of support for the program, and Louisville had a record 7,000 attendees to their spring game that year.


Petrino had a solid 2003, going 9-3 with only one bad loss (to Memphis), but losing to Miami Ohio in the GMAC bowl (getting dissected by future Steelers star Ben Roethlisberger). However, the program was clearly on track. They finished among the nation's leaders in offense and scoring, and were able to leverage their success into a solid recruiting class led by all-everything quarterback Brian Brohm.

This year, they've been even better: #1 in offense in the country, scoring 50+ points per game, averaging 536 yards per game. Their only loss was a 41-38 nailbiter at Miami (FL) where the Cardinals outgained Miami 507-431 but still lost.

I think I agree with Michael below; Bobby Petrino is a great choice for the Irish at this point. He's young (43), he's fiery, and he's smart as hell.

One note of concern though, from a Bill Kirk/Student Affairs/tailgating police standpoint: Petrino loves to drum up fan support, and actually talks about tailgating as an important part of the football gameday. Uh oh. Along those lines, I was in attendance at the Notre Dame/USC joint football luncheon last week before the game, and Pete Carroll talked about how he hoped the fans were going to be "jacked up" and "partied up" for tomorrow's game. Out of the corner of my eye, I think I caught a wince from Monk. I hope Fr. Jenkins is the kind of guy who enjoys a beer and a brat before the game.