BOWLING GREEN, KY
Now that Bobby Petrino is back in the coaching ranks, he wants to make the most of his second chance.
Petrino was introduced Monday as Western Kentucky’s new head football coach. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a “pattern of misleading” behavior following an accident in which the coach was injured while riding a motorcycle with his mistress as a passenger.
“At this point in my career, it’s about getting back and coaching players,” Petrino said. “It just happened to open up at a place we love.
“I hope it can be as long as possible.”
Petrino had a 34-17 record at Arkansas before he was dismissed in the wake of the scandal. Petrino had an affair with former Razorback volleyball player Jessica Dorrell, whom he later hired as a football assistant and gave $20,000 in gifts. Petrino said initially he was the only person on the motorcycle but later admitted to Dorrell’s presence.
“I’m going to be able to sit down with mom and dad and the student-athlete and make them understand how this experience has made me a better coach, a better person and will make me understand their son better,” Petrino said.
Petrino is replacing Willie Taggart, who left WKU last week to become South Florida’s coach.
Western Kentucky gave Petrino a four-year deal with a base annual salary of $850,000. If he terminates the deal at any time, he must re-pay the university $1.2 million in six monthly payments starting the month after he leaves.
Athletic director Todd Stewart knows he might get criticized for hiring Petrino.
“What it comes down is that he made a big mistake and he acknowledges that and he’s taken ownership of that,” Stewart said. “And he’s paid a heavy price for it.
“But this is the United States of America, and we’re a country of second chances. I was confident after talking with him and with other people that he deserved a second chance and we are more than happy to give it to him.”
Petrino is 75-26 overall as a college head coach.
He takes over a 7-5 Western Kentucky team that’s headed to its first bowl appearance as an FBS school. The Hilltoppers will play in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26 against Central Michigan.