Western Kentucky hires Petrino as football coach

New Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino, left, holds up a jersey with athletic director Todd Stewart during an NCAA college football news conference, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, in Bowling Green, Ky. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a 'pattern of misleading' behavior following an accident in which the coach was injured while riding a motorcycle with his mistress as a passenger but now wants to make the most of his second chance. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Joe Imel)

New Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino, left, holds up a jersey with athletic director Todd Stewart during an NCAA college football news conference, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, in Bowling Green, Ky. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a "pattern of misleading" behavior following an accident in which the coach was injured while riding a motorcycle with his mistress as a passenger but now wants to make the most of his second chance. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Joe Imel)

New Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino smiles during an NCAA college football news conference, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, in Bowling Green, Ky. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a 'pattern of misleading' behavior following an accident in which the coach was injured while riding a motorcycle with his mistress as a passenger but now wants to make the most of his second chance. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Joe Imel)

New Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino smiles during an NCAA college football news conference, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, in Bowling Green, Ky. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a "pattern of misleading" behavior following an accident in which the coach was injured while riding a motorcycle with his mistress as a passenger but now wants to make the most of his second chance. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Joe Imel)

New Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino, left, responds to a question as athletic director Todd Stewart smiles during an NCAA college football news conference, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, in Bowling Green, Ky. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a 'pattern of misleading' behavior following an accident in which the coach was injured while riding a motorcycle with his mistress as a passenger but now wants to make the most of his second chance. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Joe Imel)

New Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino, left, responds to a question as athletic director Todd Stewart smiles during an NCAA college football news conference, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, in Bowling Green, Ky. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a "pattern of misleading" behavior following an accident in which the coach was injured while riding a motorcycle with his mistress as a passenger but now wants to make the most of his second chance. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Joe Imel)

New Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino, left, shakes hands with student Jared Willis at an NCAA college football news conference, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, in Bowling Green, Ky. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a 'pattern of misleading' behavior following an accident in which the coach was injured while riding a motorcycle with his mistress as a passenger but now wants to make the most of his second chance. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Joe Imel)

New Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino, left, shakes hands with student Jared Willis at an NCAA college football news conference, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, in Bowling Green, Ky. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a "pattern of misleading" behavior following an accident in which the coach was injured while riding a motorcycle with his mistress as a passenger but now wants to make the most of his second chance. (AP Photo/The Daily News, Joe Imel)

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Now that Bobby Petrino is back in the coaching ranks, he wants to make the most of his second chance.

Petrino was introduced Monday as Western Kentucky's new head football coach. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a "pattern of misleading" behavior following an accident in which the coach was injured while riding a motorcycle with his mistress as a passenger.

"At this point in my career, it's about getting back and coaching players," Petrino said. "It just happened to open up at a place we love.

"I hope it can be as long as possible."

Petrino had a 34-17 record at Arkansas before he was dismissed in the wake of the scandal. Petrino had an affair with former Razorback volleyball player Jessica Dorrell, who he later hired as a football assistant had gave $20,000 in gifts. Petrino said initially he was the only person on the motorcycle but later admitted to Dorrell's presence.

"I'm going to be able to sit down with mom and dad and the student-athlete and make them understand how this experience has made me a better coach, a better person and will make me understand their son better," Petrino said during a packed news conference at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity I'll be able to give student athletes when they make a mistake."

Petrino is replacing Willie Taggart, who left WKU last week to become South Florida's coach.

Western Kentucky gave Petrino a four-year deal with a base annual salary of $850,000. If he terminates the deal at any time, he must re-pay the university $1.2 million in six monthly payments starting the month after he leaves.

Athletic director Todd Stewart knows he might get criticized for hiring Petrino.

He and Petrino had a long discussion over the weekend about the coach's past. Stewart said Petrino was candid and honest about his conduct and took responsibility for his actions. He said Petrino's contrition convinced him to give the coach a shot.

"What it comes down is that he made a big mistake and he acknowledges that and he's taken ownership of that," Stewart said. "And he's paid a heavy price for it.

"But this is the United States of America, and we're a country of second chances. I was confident after talking with him and with other people that he deserved a second chance and we are more than happy to give it to him."

Petrino, 75-26 overall as a college head coach, said he is looking forward to "building on the foundation and standards" that Taggart established.

Petrino had been looking to get back into coaching since he was let go by Arkansas. His name had been recently mentioned in connection with several openings, including Kentucky and Auburn.

He returns to the state where he successfully began his head coaching career. Petrino coached at Louisville from 2003-06, going 41-9 and leading the Cardinals to a 12-1 mark and their first-ever BCS berth in the Orange Bowl in 2006.

Now that he's back in the state, the coach said he and wife Becky "consider this coming home."

While at Louisville, Petrino was offered an NFL job and he left the Cardinals to become coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

He had a brief 13-game stint in 2007 with Atlanta. The Falcons stumbled to a 3-10 start before Petrino left for Arkansas, announcing his departure to players in a four-sentence laminated letter left at their lockers.

Arkansas had a losing record — 5-7 — in his first season. But Petrino and the Razorbacks improved each after that. They were to 8-5 in 2009, 10-3 with a Sugar Bowl appearance in 2010 and went 11-2 with a Cotton Bowl bid in 2011.

He takes over a 7-5 Western Kentucky team that's headed to its first bowl appearance as an FBS school. The Hilltoppers will play in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26 against Central Michigan.

WKU defensive coordinator Lance Guidry was named interim coach on Saturday and will coach the team in the bowl game.

Petrino will be hands-off until after the bowl game.

The new coach did meet with Hilltoppers players on Monday afternoon. Petrino expects the program to consistently win conference championships, bowl games and to compete for a BCS bowl berth.

Stewart believes Petrino can take WKU to the next level.

"I'm confident that he'll be here for a while and hope that he's here for a long time," Stewart said. "No one person is bigger than the program, it's about the program. The important thing is that the program continues to develop and get better and go to places that its never been.

"You need a field general to give you the best chance to have that happen, and coach Petrino is the best one out there for us."

___

AP Freelancer Writer Brad Stephens in Bowling Green contributed to this report.

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Comments » 14

HazardKYVol writes:

Maybe when he gets to Bowling Green, he can trade his bike for a Corvette.

Lvillebill writes:

2nd chance? Try third or fourth. No way he stays 3 years.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

I knew somebody would take a chance on him. I really thought it would be Auburn. It'll be interesting to see how it works out. Does WKU have a pretty good volleyball team?

Colliervol writes:

Desperation on both sides. I knew that no major program would give him the time of day. Not sure why a smaller one would either. If his lips are moving, he's lying and he's proven it at every stop.

VolunteerLifer writes:

WKy is about where he belongs right now. If I were Hart, I'd keep in touch with him as time goes by.

VolsFanInAfghanistan writes:

Everything that some of the Vol Nation was saying i've read somewhere else. Parents are screaming that theres no way they would even want to consider letting this man recruit their sons for his football program. Like the AD alluded to everyone deserves a second chance, but with his track record it truly makes you wonder. Everything I've read, even with him being out of the spot light for a bit has been negative comments. I'm somewhat relieved Tennessee didn't get him.

LCPanthers (Inactive) writes:

should have been Tennessee

underthehill writes:

One thing is for sure..Western Ky hiring Petrino will increase the interest and attendance for the UT-Western Ky game on 9-7-13..

ProfessionalHandicapper writes:

Much better hire than a Brian Kelley coat tail rider. Speaking of leaving in three years,Jones has never had a job at any stop at any level or position for over three years. He won with another coaches players and moved on.

underthehill writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

Much better hire than a Brian Kelley coat tail rider. Speaking of leaving in three years,Jones has never had a job at any stop at any level or position for over three years. He won with another coaches players and moved on.

I don't see any reasoning for anyone..even a Vandy fan..to think Jones was a bad hire..the best comment I have heard was from Chuck Cav on Sports Source..what if they hadn't hired him ..then what..UT had to have somebody..now..and the vast majority seem to think Jones was the best available..it was obvious Petrino was not going to go to a major school and Western Ky may have been the best situation for him..I just talked to a friend on the phone and we both agreed.. we will attend the UT-Western K game on 9-7-13 if we can get good tickets..it may even be a sellout..Petrino just made it more interesting..

BlueHarley writes:

Looks like his face healed up pretty good....he was a mess after that wreck.

CCLC writes:

Interesting that the Hilltoppers handled Troy pretty well and kept them to 26 points....... return most of their D and all of their O. Play uT in Knoxvegas. The vol d struggled with Troy and will have their hands full with Petrino. I think Butch may get a rough introduction to VOL FAN FURRY if he screw the pooch that second game...... gonna be fun to watch.
just sayin'

Colliervol writes:

in response to LCPanthers:

should have been Tennessee

To do what? Clean the toilets?

Colliervol writes:

in response to ProfessionalHandicapper:

Much better hire than a Brian Kelley coat tail rider. Speaking of leaving in three years,Jones has never had a job at any stop at any level or position for over three years. He won with another coaches players and moved on.

Has James Franklin beaten a single SEC team with a winning record since he's been there. Sure is getting a lot of pub for beating a bunch of down programs and FBS schools. Of course it is Vandy so I guess that gets you a raise and a parade. At UT that gets you fired.

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