I n the aftermath of a humiliating home defeat at the hands of the University of Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) Warhawks, Arkansas fans and leadership are wishing for Bobby Petrino.
All the talk that Arkansas Athletic Director Jeff Long did the right thing in firing Bobby Petrino is exposed.
Which is worse, a few months of scandal or a few years as a cellar dweller in the SEC West?
Which would you rather endure, a few years of sex jokes about an Arkansas resident other than Bill Clinton or Saturday nights where the offense cannot pass protect and the defense forgets how to play defense?
It is an easy choice.
Arkansas was lucky to have a coach of the caliber of Bobby Petrino. The former Arkansas coach owned a college coaching record of 75-26 and was 34-17 at Arkansas.
Arkansas is a good football program, but it has serious challenges in the SEC West. These challenges require a coach with unique talents—talents that Petrino brought to the University of Arkansas.
The first challenge is in recruiting. Arkansas has its share of trouble keeping talent at home with high profile players heading out of state to play at schools like Auburn (including an All-SEC running back.) This is a challenge as Arkansas is not as flush with talent as states like Georgia, Florida or Louisiana. So, losing one big player is a serious loss and it was already tough enough with Petrino. How bad will it be without him? The Razorbacks need a coach with name recognition to recruit at home and beyond the state’s borders.
Arkansas has ranked lower than SEC West foes Alabama and LSU in the recruiting rankings. Consistently.
For reference, Rivals ranked Arkansas 34th in 2012, 24th in 2011, 49th in 2010, 16th in 2009, 36th in 2008, 31st in 2007, 27th in 2006 and 24th in 2005. Everyone knows where Alabama and LSU have been during most of these seasons—in the top ten and often ranked number one. The 2013 recruiting class ranking has Arkansas ranked 40th. http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/recruiting/teamrank/2013/all/all
The second challenge is facing these SEC teams stocked with talent. This is where a coach like Bobby Petrino with a record of accomplishment at Louisville and in Arkansas helps. Petrino knows how to do more with less. His offensive playcalling was a great equalizer. Arkansas averaged 36 points per game in 2009, 36.5 points per game in 2010 and 36.8 points per game in 2011.
Petrino developed talent on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Ryan Mallett and now Tyler Wilson are products of Petrino’s tutoring. How good was Petrino? Arkansas led the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in passing for three straight seasons.
Where is Arkansas without Petrino?
Wishing it had him back.