Petrino returns to state, apologizes; says he wants to coach again
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Former Arkansas Razorbacks head football coach Bobby Petrino apologized for the scandal that cost him his job and said he still wants to coach. He made the remarks during his first visit back to the state since 2012.
Petrino was interviewed by media personality and former Razorback David Bazzel Monday (Sept. 9) before 700 attendees at the Little Rock Touchdown Club. Tickets sold out in 24 hours. Petrino was not paid for his appearance.
Petrino was fired by former University of Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long on April 11, 2012. He addressed that situation early in the interview.
“I wanted to be able to come here and apologize to everybody, the fans, the players, and truly tell you how sorry I am for the way it ended,” he said. “I also wanted to come here and thank you for everything that the people in this room and the state did for me and my family.”
Petrino had amassed a 34-17 record in four years at Arkansas and was 21-5 his last two years. The Razorbacks finished his last season ranked number five in the nation.
In April 2012, Petrino, then 51, was injured in a motorcycle accident involving his 25-year-old mistress, a former Razorbacks Foundation employee whom Petrino had hired four days before their accident, and whom he had given $20,000.
Long said in an emotional press conference that Petrino had misled him and the public about the relationship. Petrino had not told Long his mistress was involved in the accident and did not mention her in a post-accident press conference where he was visibly injured.
Petrino said he was “nervous coming here today. There’s no question about that. Woke up this morning and felt like it was game day.” After his firing, Petrino coached at Western Kentucky and then was hired to coach his second stint at Louisville. Before coming to Arkansas, he coached less than a season for the Atlanta Falcons. He was fired at Louisville Nov. 11, 2018, after the Cardinals had lost their seventh straight game and fallen to 2-8 on the season.
Asked about his future plans, he said he and his son are opening a couple of HOTWORX infrared fitness studios in Colorado and that he’s writing a book about offense. And he wants to coach again.
“I’ve always felt like football was a way of life for me, not a job, so I do miss it,” he said. “I miss being around the players. I miss the trying to help players excel and become the best they can possibly be on the field and off the field. … You know, I love sitting around with the coaches and game planning and working with them on preparing the guys. And then Saturdays are a little boring right now,” he said. “You know, the competitive spirit is still there and (I’m) trying to get myself in the best possible shape I can. If I get another opportunity to coach, I’m going to come out and do the best I can.”
Petrino appeared before the Little Rock Touchdown Club two days after his former team lost its 12th consecutive SEC game. Bazzel said in the interview that Petrino would not talk about the team out of respect for current coach Chad Morris. But Petrino does believe the Razorbacks can enjoy success again in the SEC West.
“It’s always going around in circles,” he said. “It’s the toughest conference in the country. There’s no question about that, toughest division. And besides Alabama, everybody’s had their ups and downs.”