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The Art of The Bobby Petrino Coaching Bio

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It’s about the words you don’t say!

College football had a very busy start to 2020. LSU beat Clemson for the national title; Mike Leach continued a long chain of pee-vents when he took the Mississippi State job; Matt Rhule left Baylor for the NFL. Amidst all that, I somehow missed that two days after the championship game, Bobby Petrino got the head coach job at Missouri State. It’s an interesting personnel decision, considering:

  1. Louisville won six more games without Petrino in 2019 than they did with him in 2018, and
  2. Literally everything else about the man’s professional history

But, as our bosses tell us, capitalism don’t make mistakes. If Petrino’s the coach of the Bears, that’s because the market determined it was the most efficient outcome, and who am I to question that?

What I can do, however, is judge his official bio. Let’s start with the photograph.

There must be dozens of photographs from Petrino’s introductory press conference. Missouri State chose one where Petrino appears to be saying “again, we’re here talking about the future of this football team, so I’m not taking any questions on my past. Unless they’re about how good my golf game used to be!” as the reporters half-heartedly chuckle.

Going with this picture is ... kind of inspired? I can’t say for sure if this was the thinking, but this photo seems to be telling you, the Petrino bio peruser, to just chill. Sure, along the way we all told some lies and broke some hearts! Doesn’t mean we can’t have a big old football fiesta now!

Moving on to the text:

All accurate numbers, if maybe a tiny bit misleading. Only two of Petrino’s last six FBS teams finished in the top 25, and the bowl record that’s absent here is so-so (5-6, and 1-3 in his last four appearances). An athletic department bio leans more towards marketing than journalism, however, which makes these little nuances unsurprising.

In one sentence, this bio glides right over everything that happened during Petrino’s partial year with the Falcons and how he chose to leave the gig. You could read this and think his NFL tenure went fine, or even that Petrino was so successful in Atlanta that he won a Super Bowl in his first year but chose to depart because college was more of a challenge.

I would hate for you to get the wrong impression based on the incredibly spare description this bio gives you, so here’s an entire video about what that sentence leaves out.

On the plus side, at least the bio acknowledges Petrino left the Falcons to go to Arkansas. See if you can spot the part about his departure from Fayetteville in the very next paragraph:

Did you find it? Don’t feel bad if you didn’t - it’s not there! Sure, taking “Petrino got in a motorcycle wreck with his mistress, who he maybe hired to an athletic department job illegally, and then lied to Arkansas’s athletic director about it, which got him fired” and turning into something that doesn’t say any of that is tricky. But shouldn’t you try? Here, let me have a go.

After suffering injuries in an offseason accident, Petrino spent the 2012 away from coaching.

Boom! All technically true, and it even makes Petrino worthy of sympathy, bravely battling back from his injuries to lead football teams once more!

That sounds great! Wonder what went wrong? Surely Louisville didn’t go 2-10, lost eight of those games by at least 21 points, and pay Petrino $14 million to stop working for them?

They did? Oh.

I assume the vast majority of people reading this bio know a good bit about Petrino’s checkered past. MIssouri State likely assumes the same. The internet’s a big place, and it’s not hard to find any of this information.

But we should still consider the rare person who, knowing nothing about Bobby Petrino, heads on over to check out his official Missouri State bio. What excitement they must be feeling, o get a coach who’s been a leader and winner at so many places! How can the future be anything but bright!

I wish that person well, and I hope when they pull up Google, this is the only thing their browser spits back.