Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Updated: January 18, 12:34 PM ET
Razorbacks' Petrino well versed in prior commitments
By Gene Wojciechowski
National signing day is Feb. 6, which means new Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino has just three more weeks to convince blue-chip recruits -- and their parents -- to commit to the Razorbacks.
I'd give anything to be one of those parents when Petrino stopped by for his in-home visit.
Petrino: "Before we start, can I just say one thing from the bottom of my heart? This is by far the best Chex Mix I've ever had in my life. My wife Becky will kill me if I leave here without the recipe."
Recruit's dad: "Recipe? You open the bag and pour it into a bowl."
"Hold on -- I'm writing this down. Into
bowl. Well, I can certainly see where your son gets his smarts."
"Yes, about my son
"Best recruit I've ever seen. He could be a legend in Little Rock."
"You mean Fayetteville."
Little Rock. I keep getting those two mixed up. Memo to me: buy map of state."
"You've never actually seen my son play in person, have you?"
"Not exactly. But I have seen him on film and he's absolutely the kind of student-athlete I want in, uh
"That's the place. And while we're discussing college campuses, do you mind me asking where your son has taken his official visits?"
"Well, so far he's talked to Notre Dame, LSU, Florida, Mississippi and Auburn."
"Weird -- so did I. What I meant to say is, has he made any kind of verbal commitment?"
"Yes, to Auburn."
"Weird -- so did I. I mean, he's only given them his word, right?"
"Isn't that enough?"
"It's been my experience that if you try hard enough, you can get out of anything, including your word."
"Why don't you tell me about your personal philosophy as a head coach."
"Well, we're going to throw the ball so much that they're going to name an airline after us."
"But for how long?"
"I said, 'For how long?' I was looking at your career bio. Since 1983 you've coached at two different NFL teams and seven different schools -- eight, counting Arkansas -- and only once have you stayed longer than three years. My son has a better chance of lasting longer at Arkansas than you do."
"Like I said at the news conference a few weeks ago, I truly believe from the bottom of my heart that I made the right decision. But enough about me. Why don't we talk about what jersey number your son prefers. Personally, I like --"
"Hold on. In 2002, when you left your eighth team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, for your ninth team, Auburn, you said, 'I gave it a good run in the NFL. I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot. But college is where I prefer to be.'"
"You work for Google or something? But you're right, I love the college game. That's why I'm sitting here in your house tonight. So, all together now: 'Moooooooooo, Wig! Pooie!"'
"I think it's, 'Woooooooooo, Pig! Sooie!'"
"Memo to me: learn pig call."
"It's calling the hogs."
"Another recruiter was here a few days ago. He said people are calling you, 'Coach Pinocchio.' He said you have a history of lying."
"I don't think I have a lying issue."
"In 2003, your first year as Louisville's head coach, you lied about a secret meeting with Auburn officials to discuss replacing your former boss, Tommy Tuberville -- who hadn't even been fired."
"I was a young coach and I made a mistake."
"You weren't that young. You were 42."
"I meant young, compared to Joe Paterno."
"In 2004 you lied when you said coaching Louisville football was, 'the best job in the country.'"
"Now, wait a minute, I really liked that place."
"But you talked to Auburn in 2003, and had contact with Notre Dame, Florida, Mississippi, LSU and the Oakland Raiders during the next two years about their job openings."
"OK, seventh-best job."
"In 2006, when Louisville sweetened your contract, you lied when you said, '
this is where I want to be."'
"It was. In July."
"And less than six months later you left Louisville for the Atlanta Falcons head coaching job. So you lied when you said college is where you preferred to be."
"Look, Louisville was paying me $25.5 over 10 years. The Falcons were paying me $24.5 million over five years. Do the math."
"I did, with some help from Roger Mooney of the Bradenton Herald. He added it up and found that during a 12-month period, you had a combined 20-years' worth of contracts with Louisville, Atlanta and now Arkansas worth more than $63 million."
"Not bad for a Pinocchio, eh?"
"In January 2007 you lied when you said coaching Atlanta is, 'truly the best football job in the NFL.'"
"Who are you -- Monk?"
"On Dec. 10, you lied to Falcons owner Arthur Blank when you said you'd return to the team in 2008. A day later, with a 3-10 record, you resigned and took the Arkansas job."
"You'd leave too if you saw the rush hour traffic in that town."
"Every one of you coaches tells my son that the two biggest decisions he'll ever make are choosing a school and choosing a wife. So why would I let him choose you?"
"Like I told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after I took the Falcons job, I think I develop a lot of really good, strong relationships that last a long time and get everybody on the same page."
"Speaking of pages, you left a one-page, one-paragraph, four-sentence form letter for your players when you resigned from the Falcons. That doesn't sound like you had a strong relationship."
"Did I mention we run a lot of four-wide receiver sets?"
"Falcons quarterback Joey Harrington told reporters that you preached team and family, 'and then he quit on us.' Falcons running back Warrick Dunn said, 'Arkansas should be worried. Any family and any kid that he recruits should be worried.' And Jamaal Anderson, who played at Arkansas and played for you in Atlanta, told the Journal-Constitution, 'I'm just afraid to see what happens if he does bad at Arkansas. Is he going to leave those kids?' Well, are you?"
"Uh, is there any Chex Mix left?"
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Bobby Petrino will be selling Hog futures through signing day on Feb. 6.|