Bobby Petrino is again Louisville's football coach, returning to the school eight years after winning 82% of his games but also creating turbulence with the school over dalliances with other programs.
The Cardinals introduced Petrino this morning in a news conference as Petrino called Louisville his "destination job" and where he wants to end his coaching career.
"I've made mistakes both professionally & personally, something that I'm not going to do again," Petrino said. "My first mistake was ever leaving Louisville."
Petrino said his contract with Louisville is for seven years and includes a $10 million buyout.
Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich said, "Bobby has convinced me he's a changed man. … The coach I had here seven years ago is not the coach I want to hire."
Petrino left Louisville in 2006 for the Atlanta Falcons, but he quit that job in the middle of his first season, angering owner Arthur Blank. He then was hired at Arkansas, where he went 34-17 from 2008-11 but then left in disgrace after it became public that he had been in a motorcycle accident with his mistress, whom he had hired as an administrative assistant.
In 2013, after one year out of coaching, Petrino resurfaced at Western Kentucky and called himself a changed man. He went 8-4 with the Hilltoppers. On Wednesday he told his WKU staff that he would be heading to Louisville. "I went to Western Kentucky so I could be close to Louisville," Petrino said Thursday.
Western Kentucky athletics director Todd Stewart said in a statement Thursday, "Coach Petrino displayed a tireless work ethic throughout his 13 months as our head coach and was completely devoted to WKU football from the day he was hired. Our program benefited greatly from his presence, knowledge and leadership. He will do a terrific job leading the Louisville football program as they move into the Atlantic Coast Conference, and I am also confident he will take an already outstanding program to even loftier heights."
At Louisville, he famously flirted with Auburn in 2003 – while Tommy Tuberville was still the head coach. He talked with Notre Dame and LSU and the Oakland Raiders in the next couple of years. And after signing a 10-year contract with Louisville, he bolted town for the Falcons five months later. "Bobby and I have a lot of history," Jurich said. "A lot of it was great. A lot of it was not great."
But Jurich was convinced that of seven candidates he considered this week, Petrino was the best to be Louisville's next head football coach. Petrino replaces Charlie Strong, who left Louisville this week to become the new head coach at Texas.
Contributing: George Schroeder, Dan Wolken.