Doc 5: Best college football coaching backouts -- No. 3 Bobby Petrino

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday
MEMPHIS, TN - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Bobby Petrino of the Louisville Cardinals coaches his team against the Boise State Broncos during the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on December 31, 2004 at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. Louisville defeated Boise State 44-40. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.



Bobby Petrino is a rarity in coaching because he’s left not one, but two programs high-and-dry during his coaching tenure.

Many Louisville fans credited Petrino with building the Cardinals from a Conference USA afterthought into a national power. He was 41-9 with the Cardinals. He led them to only the second 11-win season in school history (at the time) and the first 12-win season in school history (at the time).

Things were so great at Louisville, that on July 13, 2006, Petrino signed a 10-year, $25.6 million contract.

In 2006, the 12-1 Cardinals won the Big East and defeated Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl, the team’s first-ever BCS bowl.

With the Cardinals trending upward, many fans looked toward what should have been a prosperous future while Petrino looked for the nearest exit.

Despite his generous contract, school support and fan support, Petrino jumped ship on Jan. 7, 2007, just days after the Orange Bowl win, and accepted a position with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

It was a kick in the gut, no doubt. Louisville had ascended not only in conference but also national prominence and now the guy who led them there was too busy looking for the next big thing.

Fittingly, Petrino didn’t last long in Atlanta. After starting his first season 3-10, he resigned to take the head coaching position at Arkansas. He informed his players by leaving them each a laminated note in their lockers.

As you can imagine, he's not exactly adored in the NFL.

After spending four seasons with Arkansas and leading the Razorbacks to some of the best seasons in school history, Petrino was dismissed in April 2012 after it was learned that he was having an inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate. Many believed Arkansas would be a national championship contender in 2012, but the team went 4-8 and has won just seven games since Petrino left.

But in college football winning means more than hurt feelings and after Petrino spent a season with Western Kentucky, Louisville welcomed him back, but with a buyout of $10 million.

While not all Louisville fans are happy to have him back, they have enjoyed winning and they know Petrino can keep that going. Sometimes that’s all that matters.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter