With Bobby Petrino's impending arrival at Louisville, something we have come to learn in college football is once again reemphasized. Even if it didn't need to be.
Winning is the most important thing.
It's easy to say that Petrino's second tenure at the school will be a second chance, but he probably run out of those a long time ago.
When Petrino emerged as a candidate for the job after Charlie Strong's departure to Texas, it was fun to wonder whether or not his candidacy was a serious one or just a dream. After all, a banner was hung from the student center on the Louisville campus asking for his return.
That return undoubtedly wasn't because Cardinals fans wanted their coach to have another opportunity to surreptitiously meet with another university and deny the allegations until he absolutely had to confirm them when presented with proof. No, not at all.
And it probably wasn't because they wanted their coach to appear at a press conference with a neck brace and bruised face shortly before his tenure would fall apart because a passenger on that motorcycle was a student that Petrino was having an affair with. Who he also hired on in the football office.
It's because Petrino wins football games. In his college career he has a sparkling 83-30 record that bookends a tumultuous and awkward reign as the Atlanta Falcons head coach in 2007 that spanned 13 games. After he left the Falcons and went to Arkansas, the Hogs went 5-7 in his first season. He was 29-10 in the three seasons after that.
As Pat Forde noted, Arkansas is 7-17 since.
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said after Strong left for Texas that he wanted Louisville to be a destination job. And he certainly wants to continue what Strong had built as Cardinals' football coach as the team moves to the ACC in 2014. Over the last season the Cardinals are 23-2 with two bowl wins.
Jurich was the athletic director when Petrino flirted with Auburn. He knows first-hand the impact that it had and the firestorm that Petrino created when he was forced to admit what he could no longer deny.
When Petrino was hired at Western Kentucky before the 2013 season, it wasn't going to be too long before he had another big time football job again, especially if he continued his winning ways. At 8-4, he did. He wasn't going to be in Bowling Green forever. (Side note: is that WKU gear going to Goodwill too?)
Maybe he's at Louisville for the rest of his career. It's not a crazy thought. With his past, Petrino won't likely move on to a bigger position before he's done coaching. This could be the destination job that Jurich mentioned at the beginning of the coaching search.
But there's that baggage along with it. As long as Louisville is willing to accept that unless Petrino has suddenly changed there will be distractions, for lack of a better term, along the way. One may be big enough to derail everything.
But we do know that Petrino will win at Louisville. That's what Louisville wants, and that's what they're going to get. It just may not be the only thing.
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