Petrino sets off firestorm with Hogs
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n case case anyone is wondering, Bobby Petrino is still a hot button issue with Arkansas fans.
The new Western Kentucky coach went in studio for an interview with Nashville’s WGFX 104.5 The Zone’s 3HL show on Tuesday, and managed to set off a firestorm among Razorback fans.
In the interview, Petrino accepted responsibility for the 4-8 season that came in the wake of his firing last April, but managed to peeve Arkansas fans with his comments that Western’s facilities were “way better” than Arkansas’ when Petrino first arrived in Fayetteville.
Like him or not, Petrino knows the game and has never been afraid to speak his mind. Lost in the uproar was a candid and interesting interview in which he shared his thoughts on the pistol formation and the evolution of offenses in college and the NFL, what he looks for in a quarterback, his plan for WKU, his “FTS” philosophy, some of his past coaching experiences and a lot more.
Below are some of the highlights.
On how much he is looking forward to getting back on the field this fall:
“It’ll be fun. You put a smile on my face just talking about it. You really miss it when you’re not out there, so to be able to get back on the field and work with young men and try to help them excel is something I’m really looking forward to.”
On how tough it was to spend a year out of coaching:
“It was very, very difficult. It’s always been a way of life for me, not necessarily a job. I grew up the son of a coach and it was just something you did every year, every fall. It was difficult, and then to watch them struggle and not play the way they played before, I felt a lot of responsibility for that.”
On what he did to keep up with the game during his season off:
“I was able to acquire video. From the previous year, I studied the NFL teams that were really good on offense — the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and New York Giants. Then I was able to get each week, acquire some video from the SEC teams. I tried to stay involved as much as possible with what was new, what was Johnny Football doing to get Texas A&M in the end zone so often? It was really just trying to make sure I didn’t miss anything.”
On whether or not he believes the trend of running quarterbacks is here to stay:
“I think that’s just what you do is you incorporate your offense around your talent. What his skills are and his speed and his ability to run the football, it’s kind of like what the San Francisco 49ers did this year with (Colin) Kaepernick, you mold the offense around what your play caller can do. I think there’s some run parts of it that everyone will try to utilize, and if nothing else, they do it in practice so they learn how to stop it, but he is a special talent. I hired the offensive coordinator from Nevada thinking that we were going to have a running quarterback and we were going to go in that direction, but he is a talent. His speed, and his ability to be from right behind the center and then get out on the edge – I don’t think there’s a lot of quarterbacks that can do what he can do.”
On what he looks for when recruiting a quarterback:
“The first thing that you look for is a young man that is intelligent, and can learn – and is a willing learner. A guy that wants to get in and really understand defenses and have an understanding of exactly what you’re trying to do. They have to be able to spin the ball – throw the football – and I always try to make sure that I can see them in person because you really can’t tell off video. You have to be able to see their arm strength and that they at least have the ability to make all the different throws. And then, I like to recruit guys that have a proven track record of winning. The young man we got this year, one of the reasons we decided to go on him over some of the other guys we were looking at, is he was a three-year starter that has won every year in high school, and this year took his team to a very high level. That is something that really interests me.”
On whether or not the college game is leading the NFL in terms of offensive development:
“I think it comes back to the ability to run the football in a different manner. Now that you’re seeing the quarterback runs and the option runs out of the shotgun and pistol … You always have to be able to run the ball to win games, at some point – whether its the first quarter or the fourth quarter – it is going to be about who runs the ball better and who can stop the run. Obviously, the thing that was really impressive to me this year was how well those young quarterbacks played in the NFL. You used to never hear that, and I didn’t know if it had ever really happened because it’s such a different game, it’s so fast and windows are so small. It’s very impressive that those guys came in and excelled like they did this year.”
On the reception he’s received from Western Kentucky’s fans:
“It’s been great. I’m really excited to be there, and the support that we have. We had a signing party the other night and had 400 boosters come for it.”
On comparing Arkansas’ facilities when he first arrived in Fayetteville to WKU’s:
“I tell you what, it’s unbelievable the facilities we have at WKU. The weight room, training room and locker room are way off the charts, way better than what we had at Arkansas. They did a great job of designing the new facility, because our offices and meeting rooms are in great shape. My brother told me because he interviewed for the job four years ago told me how nice it was, but I really couldn’t understand it until I got there and saw it for myself.”
On how fast he thinks Western Kentucky can transition to his system:
“We’re going to have to do it fast. We went out and really worked hard on recruiting. The good thing is there’s three starters coming back on the offensive front, two really good tight ends back and a great running back. It’s going to be developing the passing game, and really working hard on the timing and the precision of it, getting the quarterback and the receivers and the offensive line in sync. It’ll be fun, but I think we can get it done in a short period of time.”
On what he expects from his quarterbacks this year:
“We’re going to have three guys that really compete for it this spring. It’ll be fun. It’s good competition. It’s wide open. They get to go in and determine who’s going to come out of spring ball as the starter. It doesn’t mean they will be the starter in the fall, but we will have somebody come out as a No. 1 in spring ball. What they need to do first of all is really learn and execute, and do what the coaches want them to do which is understand the offense, and understand defenses. I think that’s the thing that is so important at the quarterback position is to know what defenses are trying to do and the philosophy behind who you’re going against. One of our philosophies has always been FTS, which is ‘feed the studs.’ They need to learn how to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers and let them make the plays. That makes you a lot better coach – when you have a lot of guys that can make plays and a quarterback that can understand how to get the ball to them.”
On how much money he made in is first college coaching job:
“I went to Weber State as a gradate assistant, and I got a stipend check of $245 a month. We ate a lot of Top Ramen. Four of us lived together, one guy slept on the couch … but it was fun. We enjoyed it. When I was at the University of Idaho after my first year, I was elevated to the offensive coordinator and I went from making $29,000 a year to $36,000 a year and I thought that was pretty awesome. And then when we left Utah State where I was making $50,000 a year as the offensive coordinator and we came to the University of Louisville, it was the first time we hit six figures.”
On how he got the Jacksonville Jaguars’ job:
“I was sitting in the meeting room with my brother, Paul, and we were watching video from the year before, right around this time. … The secretary came in and said, ‘There’s a guy by the name of Tom Coughlin on the phone,’ and we both kind of laughed and joked, yeah right. … I went and got on the phone and Coach Coughlin told me his offensive coordinator just left and took the head job with the Cleveland Browns and he wanted to hire a young quarterback coach and grow him in to be the coordinator. … I flew down there, went through the interview. … I really didn’t want to take the job. I was real hesitant about taking it, but I didn’t want to look back 10 years from now and say, ‘What if I would’ve done it?’ … Went and did it and had a great experience.”
On, coming from the Jacksonville Jaguars, what he asked for from Tommy Tuberville for as a condition of accepting the job at Auburn:
“When I grew up, I was a coach’s kid. I got to go to practice everyday, I was the end in the triple option read – had to take quarterback, take the pitch or go to feather, play it soft – I was in the locker room all the time, on the sideline during games. In the NFL, my kids weren’t able to do that. They weren’t able to be on the sideline or be in the locker room. So, the only thing that I said to Tommy is, I’d love to take the job, but I want my two boys to be able to be on the sideline. He said, ‘Done, we’ve got a deal.’ “
You can listen to the full interview here.