Petrino was introduced Monday as Western Kentucky’s new football coach. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a “pattern of misleading” behavior after an accident in which he was hurt while riding a motorcycle with his mistress, whom he had hired as a football assistant.
“At this point in my career, it’s about getting back and coaching players,” said Petrino, who had a 34-17 record at Arkansas. “It just happened to open up at a place we love.”
“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 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 repay the university $1.2 million in six monthly payments starting the month after he leaves.
Athletic director Todd Stewart said he and Petrino had a long discussion over the weekend about the coach’s past. He 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 to 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.”
COLORADO: Mike MacIntyre turned around the San Jose State football program in short order and will be asked to do the same at the University of Colorado, which is coming off its worst season in the 123-year history of the program.
His hiring ends a two-week search by Colorado that included a rejection by its first choice, Butch Jones.
“There’s no reason Colorado shouldn’t be at the top of the conference and competing year in and year out,” MacIntyre told a room full of boosters and media after agreeing to a five-year deal worth $2 million a season.
OHIO STATE: All-Big Ten defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins will give up his senior season to make himself available for the 2013 NFL draft.
TEXAS TECH: Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen will serve as interim coach for the Red Raiders’ bowl game this month against Minnesota. Thomsen got the nod two days after Tommy Tuberville left to take the head coaching position at Cincinnati. Also on Monday, Neal Brown, the team’s offensive coordinator the past three years, resigned to take the same job at Kentucky.