The Case For Bobby Petrino
- Trading Places???
It wasn’t long before I could take the pulse of the Auburn crowd in Vanderbilt stadium early Saturday afternoon. Gallows humor and outright calls for Chizik’s head seemed to fill the air. I’m not sure if a win Saturday would have changed the way the prevailing winds are blowing in Auburn right now but it sure would have made my trip a little better. While I argued in this space last week that Chizik has earned a chance to right this ship, I think any vestiges of his continued tenure are long gone and the decision has been made already. Despite the hefty buy-out of Chizik and his assistants, I’m convinced that Auburn will soon look to the market for a new coach and staff. What on earth are we going to do?
In looking for another head coach, the only question that really matters is who can come in and compete with Miles and Saban in the SEC West virtually immediately. There’s a very steep learning curve that’s going to be involved considering the west keeps competing for and pumping out national championships. There’s simply no time to install training wheels on anyone. The stakes are too high and the time is already past.
Bobby Petrino has already demonstrated he can compete with the powers in the west. He ran up a record of 10-3 in his 3rd year at Arkansas, 2010, beating LSU and only losing to Alabama, eventual national champ Auburn, and to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Last year, he only lost to the two best teams in the country for most of the season, Alabama and LSU. Given the purported (but now questionable) superior talent found on the Plains as opposed to Fayetteville, Petrino should have a few steps up to work his craft.
Love him or hate him. Petrino is the second coming of the Evil Genius himself, Steve Spurrier, with his high octane offensive mind and loathsome personality. While the Old Ball Coach may have mellowed somewhat in his later years, Petrino’s character and demeanor are definitely not sunny-side up. Are we willing to tolerate that? I’ll argue that we are.
So much baggage comes with Petrino: Jetgate, The Falcons stint, the Sex Scandal, the dour personality. I say it doesn’t matter. If we go win less in the SEC this year, no Auburn fan will care about any of that. They will do anything to make the wins start again, and I can’t think of a quicker tonic than Petrino. If you worry that he might once again derail, I think he’s learned his lesson after Arky did the right thing and fired him. No one expected that, least of all him, and I think he’d do anything to get a chance to compete on that level again. He’s such a good, innovative, offensive-minded coach who gets the most out of his players. Someone in the SEC is going to give him that shot again and I feel he definitely wants it as opposed to going to the Big 12. If we can’t beat him, we might as well have him join us.
Tennessee is also going to be in the market and they have some advantages over us. They’re a more prestigious program and they’re really hungry for a winner after being out of the chase for the better part of a decade. They also lack the sorted past and ill feelings for Petrino that Auburn does, which could make him feel more at ease. For better or for worse, Petrino knows the Auburn family dysfunction. He may choose to embrace it or totally rule it out–given a choice between us and the Vols. If Auburn was the only opening, you could bet your buyout he’d sign with us in a Jimmy Sexton second.
Sure, the higher ups may have pause, but enough of the Lowder contingent in the administration remains that is still strong enough to pursue and finally get their long-awaited man. Many Auburn fans are going to show open disdain in the comments below. I don’t blame them. In a perfect world we would never have Bobby Petrino leading our beloved Auburn Tigers, but we don’t have that luxury of delusional choice.
Our neighborhood doesn’t resemble anything like the Big East or ACC. We have to have a coach who’s going to come in and be able to not only compete immediately with tough customers, but win against them. We thought we were treading water last year. We sunk to the bottom of the ocean this season. We need to make the winning start again. Make the losing stop. Make a play for Petrino.
You can even use the Track Em Tigers jet. ~~