Monday, July 21, 2014
Louisville's Bobby Petrino draws a crowd
By Andrea Adelson
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Bobby Petrino shared his one-hour slot in the ACC media day rotation with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, a lineup of heavy hitters set up at three different tables across a rather large ballroom.
Before Petrino even entered, reporters lined up three deep in chairs anticipating his comments. What does it say, then, that his session had the largest turnout -- trumping two of the most high-profile coaches in the league?
It says Petrino still carries big-time weight. But it also says there is a curiosity about him that simply has not faded. Petrino has a well-documented past, and that well-documented past has a way of coming up every time he enters a room.
"I need to prove to myself and everybody else on a daily basis that this is the right decision," Bobby Petrino said of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich bringing him back.
There is no way for him to outrun it, so he answers by rote. This time around, it took 10 minutes for Petrino to be asked about what he has to say to fans of his new league who may not know a whole lot about him, other than the headlines they have read.
"I'm going to approach the game to try to do the best I can in helping young men on and off the field," Petrino responded. "One of the key things you do as a football coach is you teach players how to excel and how to get self-confidence. One of the things I'm going to work hard on is coaching the person as much as the player.
"The experiences I've had, that I can help young men with the obstacles they're going to be presented with off the field and the situations that are going to come up and help them and give them second chances."
Had he not tried to mold the person during his first stint at Louisville?
"It's something I wonder about, whether I paid that much attention to it but certainly now I understand that's a part of what I need to do," Petrino said.
Petrino says he has changed. So does athletic director Tom Jurich, who took an enormous risk when he rehired him. Petrino is no fool. He understands this, saying, "I need to prove to myself and everybody else on a daily basis that this is the right decision."
And then, that was it.
Back to football.
The questions lasted less than 5 minutes out of a full hour, but they were proof again that they have not yet gone away. They do come less frequently, but they come nonetheless. Because when people make mistakes, the natural inclination is to ask just how much they have learned. How much they have changed.
Petrino does deserve credit for the way he has handled himself since he came back to Louisville in January. He has answered every question thrown at him -- the ugly ones, too. He has made a good effort to show he has changed, offering handshakes and smiles to folks who come up to greet him.
He has shown his desire to give back to Louisville, a place he calls his home, establishing the Petrino Family Foundation with donations already totaling more than $1 million.
And he has shared personal anecdotes about his wife and his children. He proudly told reporters Monday that he caddies for his daughter Katie, who plays on the Louisville golf team. Petrino gave a bit of advice to future caddies, drawing laughs.
"Show up, keep up, shut up," he said.
Then it was on to Louisville football -- its place in the league, life without Teddy Bridgewater, recruiting and scheduling. Someone asked whether he was surprised that he did not field more questions about his past.
Petrino said no. Most of his day, from radio to television to print interviews, was spent answering football questions.
Indeed, in his ideal world, Petrino will spend the rest of his career at Louisville answering only football questions.