Bobby Petrino is returning to Arkansas.
Hours after sources confirmed to Yahoo Sports' Ross Dellenger that the Razorbacks were finishing a deal with their former coach to be the school’s offensive coordinator, Petrino tweeted that he was coming back to the school on Wednesday morning.
— Bobby Petrino (@CoachBPetrino) November 29, 2023
It’s an unexpected return for the longtime college football coach after he was fired in the spring of 2012 following a motorcycle crash that revealed an improper relationship with an athletic department staffer.
Arkansas was in the market for an offensive coordinator after firing Dan Enos during the 2023 season. The Razorbacks finished the season 4-8, but athletic director Hunter Yurachek announced before the final game of the season that coach Sam Pittman would return in 2024.
Petrino, meanwhile, is looking for a job after Texas A&M fired coach Jimbo Fisher with two games remaining in the season. Fisher hired Petrino to be the Aggies’ offensive coordinator ahead of the 2023 season after Petrino had initially been hired to run UNLV’s offense.
Before moving to UNLV — and subsequently to A&M — Petrino was the head coach at FCS level Missouri State. The Bears went 18-15 in his three years at the school from 2020-22.
The Razorbacks improved in each of Petrino’s four seasons in Fayetteville from 2008-11 and were 11-2 at the end of the 2011 season after a win over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.
Things disintegrated for Petrino at Arkansas months later, when he crashed his motorcycle on an Arkansas highway. After saying he was alone on the motorcycle, the married Petrino admitted that he had been riding on the motorcycle with a recently hired staffer before the police report was released.
Less than two weeks after the crash, Arkansas fired Petrino for cause. He had been in a relationship with Jessica Dorell for months before she was hired as a student-athlete coordinator on the football staff. When announcing Petrino’s dismissal, then-Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said he would never had allowed Petrino to hire Dorrell had their relationship been disclosed.
Petrino spent the 2012 season out of football before he was hired as Western Kentucky’s coach ahead of the 2013 season. After one year at WKU, he returned to Louisville — his first college head coaching job — and was the Cardinals’ coach for five seasons. Louisville won at least eight games in every season from 2014-17, but cratered in 2018 with a 2-8 record and an 0-7 mark in ACC play.