Missouri State hires former Louisville and Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino

Bobby Petrino spent the 2019 season out of college football after he was fired from Louisville. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Bobby Petrino spent the 2019 season out of college football after he was fired from Louisville. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Bobby Petrino is back in college football.

The longtime coach was hired Wednesday as the new coach at FCS school Missouri State. Petrino, 58, takes the job after he spent the 2019 season out of coaching following his late-season firing from Louisville in 2018. Petrino, who agreed to a five-year deal, be introduced at a news conference Thursday in Springfield, Missouri.

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Petrino’s Cardinals were a disaster a season ago. Louisville was 2-8 when Petrino got dismissed with two games to go and finished the season 2-10. The Cardinals were outscored by over 20 points a game.

The school hired former Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield to replace Petrino and the improvement Louisville showed in 2019 was remarkable. Satterfield led Louisville to an 8-5 season that was capped off with a Music City Bowl win over Mississippi State.

Missouri State is a program looking for some relevancy at the FCS level and this is certainly one way to do it. The Bears haven’t won seven games in a season since 1996 and haven’t made the FCS playoffs in 29 seasons.

That 2-10 season was just the second season of Petrino’s college head coaching career where one of his teams finished below .500. He keeps getting jobs because his teams keep winning games. It’s a pretty simple formula. But things are never simple when Petrino is your team’s football coach.

Petrino has won over 100 games

Petrino is 119-56 in 14 seasons as a college coach. He took over at Louisville in 2003 following a season as Auburn’s offensive coordinator and his teams won nine games in each of his four years at the school. After just a year at Louisville, Petrino interviewed in secret at Auburn about taking the team’s head coaching job.

Petrino left Louisville for the first time when he was hired by the Atlanta Falcons. He lasted less than a season in the NFL as the Falcons struggled with QB Michael Vick involved in the legal issues that stemmed from his dogfighting charges. 

With three games left in the 2007 season, Petrino bolted Atlanta for Arkansas and informed Falcons players of his intentions to head back to college with notes left in players’ lockers. 

The infamous motorcycle wreck

Things got even crazier at Arkansas. The Hogs won 21 games in Petrino’s third and fourth seasons as the team’s coach. And then in April 2012, Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident.

After trying to cover up the exact circumstances of the crash, it was revealed that Petrino was riding on the motorcycle with a former Arkansas volleyball player who was hired as a staffer for the football program and that the two were in a romantic relationship. 

Petrino was fired on April 10. After spending the 2012 season out of football, Petrino was hired at Western Kentucky in 2013. After a season with the Hilltoppers he went back to Louisville where his teams had won at least eight games in each of the previous four seasons before everything came crashing down in 2018.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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