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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More On Petrino's Sudden Departure From The Atlanta Falcons

Well, for some reason, I'm not surprised at this.

Petrino quits Falcons to take Arkansas job

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 12/11/07
Falcons coach Bobby Petrino, in a move that was said to have blindsided team officials, resigned Tuesday evening to take the head-coaching job at the University of Arkansas, the team confirmed.

Team owner Arthur Blank and the Falcons brass were caught so off guard that they are still trying to figure out who will coach the 3-10 team over the final three games.

Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer are likely candidates to coach the Falcons on an interim basis.

Each could be under consideration for the permanent job.

Before the Falcons' 34-14 loss to New Orleans Monday, Blank said that he had heard rumors that Arkansas had targeted Petrino to replace Houston Nutt as head coach. So he said he asked Petrino if he was considering that job.

Petrino, who was signed from the University of Louisville to a five-year, $24.5 million contract Jan. 8, told him Monday afternoon that he definitely would be back to coach the Falcons in 2008.

It was the second time Blank had asked Petrino about his commitment to the team and the second time Petrino told him he would be back next season.

Blank was not available for comment Tuesday evening.

The Falcons were off Tuesday and Petrino did not hold his typical day-after, post game news conference. It is not known if he spent the day talking to officials from Arkansas.

Petrino's abrupt departure puts the Falcons in position of trying to find a second head coach in less than a year. Blank fired Jim Mora Jan. 1, 2007 after three seasons.

Atlanta is in a tenuous situation because a new head coach with a radically different philosophy could require a rapid change in direction from plans already put in place to augment the roster for Petrino's scheme.

Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall, one of several players with a frosty relationship with Petrino, said he was surprised by the news, which he heard about from a team officials around 5:30 Tuesday.

"We felt like Petrino was going to be around for the long haul, like he had as much invested in this as we did," Hall said. "For him to jump ship is disheartening. Arthur Blank and the city of Atlanta, they deserve to win and we thought Petrino was going to be the guy to help us get there. He was a winner and wasn't used to losing.

"Maybe he didn't feel he could win at this level. I disagree with that. If he doesn't want to be a part of it, fine. We'll move on and get better and we will games without him."

It was thought that Petrino could take the Falcons offense, led by Michael Vick, and create an exciting, winning brand of football.

But Petrino's troubles in Atlanta began soon afterward, starting when Vick was questioned by security at Miami International Airport on Jan. 17 about a water bottle with a hidden compartment. Test results indicated that were no illegal substances in the bottle, and Vick was cleared of wrongdoing.

Vick's troubles continued in April when police found evidence of a dogfighting operation at a home he owned in rural southeastern Virginia.

Vick was indicted on felony charges in July of operating an illegal dogfighting operation, known as Bad Newz Kennels.

Vick was indefintely suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in August.

The Falcons are 3-10 following Monday's 34-14 loss to New Orleans. They are tied for the second-worst record in the league.

In the wake of Vick's suspension, the team has used three different starting quarterbacks, and its offense has struggled. They are 30th in the league in scoring (14.2 points per game) and 24th in yards per game (301.1 ypg).

Fan reaction was much like that at Falcons headquarters: surprised.

Brian Daniels, president of Louisville's Atlanta Alumni Club said, "I'm just absolutely floored.

"I really believe he came here to coach the best athlete in football. I think he was just at a point where he'd had enough. You can't blame a man for wanting to drive a Porsche and being handed a Cadillac."

Petrino has a history of short stays as a coach.

During his four seasons at Louisville, Auburn, LSU and the NFL's Oakland Raiders talked to him.

In an attempt to keep him, the school signed him to a $25-million extension in July, 2006.

He signed a deal with the Falcons six months later.

Petrino's coaching career started in 1983 as a graduate assistant at Carroll College in Wisconsin. He became offensive coordinator there in 1985. It was the start of a long-time career in the college ranks that saw him work as an assistant at eight colleges before being named head coach at the University of Louisville in 2003. He compiled a 41-9 record at Louisville.

Petrino previously worked in the pro ranks as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 1999-2002.

Petrino also has a previous stint in the SEC, as offensive coordinator for Auburn University in 2002.

Vick receives 23-month sentence on dogfighting charges

Richmond, Virgina judge Henry Hudson sentenced embattled Atlanta Falcons quarterback
Michael Vick to nearly two full years in prison Monday morning.

Since the disgraced star has already spent three months behind bars, it is probable to assume that with good behavior the sentence will be reduced to 19 months. Either way, it will have been three years without playing professional football and the likelihood of Vick acclimating himself back into the league is very minimal.

Petrino reportedly phones in resignation to Falcons

Petrino's departure from the hapless Falcons continues to further the notion that college coaches that immediately embark upon the NFL fail miserably.Outside of Jimmie Johnson leaving the University of Miami to coach the Dallas Cowboys, the line of success is minimal.

ESPN.com news services

Bobby Petrino abruptly resigned his position as coach of the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday and is negotiating an agreement to become the new coach at the University of Arkansas, multiple sources told ESPN.

Petrino and his agent had been talking with the Falcons about his preference to return to the college ranks. The former Louisville coach was looking for an opportunity to break into the Southeastern Conference ranks, and Arkansas was a natural fit.

Citing the team as its source, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on its Web site that Petrino phoned the Falcons about 5:45 p.m. Tuesday and resigned. Petrino and the team agreed he would not coach the Falcons' remaining three games, a source told ESPN.com's John Clayton.

Negotiations between Petrino and Arkansas are ongoing, the sources told ESPN. Once a deal is in place, Petrino is expected to be paid around $3 million a year, the sources said.

Petrino signed a five-year, $24 million contract to be the Falcons head coach, so he will be taking a pay cut to re-enter the college ranks. The Falcons are 3-10 and have had their season torn apart by Michael Vick's involvement in a dogfighting ring and subsequent 23-month jail sentence, which was levied Monday.

NFL sources said there was no buyout in Petrino's contract with the Falcons.

Petrino will succeed Houston Nutt, who was hired by Mississippi immediately after resigning at Arkansas. Tommy Tuberville and Tommy Bowden were both linked to the Arkansas opening, but they remained as coaches at Auburn and Clemson, respectively.

Arkansas flirted with hiring Jim Grobe -- a private fundraising arm for the Razorbacks approved a salary supplement for the Wake Forest coach -- but Grobe stayed with the Demon Deacons.

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