Bobby Petrino inherited a new challenge when he became Missouri State’s head football coach in January 2020. But he vowed to approach it with the same zeal he has approached other challenges in his long coaching journey.
“Let’s write the script like this,” he told reporters at his introductory news conference. “I’d come here, be very successful. I decide eight or 10 years from now whether I still want to coach football, with a national championship in my pocket. That’s what I want to see happen.”
Bobby Petrino is entering his 37th year in the profession, and his 16th as a head coach. He is best known for his two stints at the University of Louisville (2003-06 and 2014-18) and another at the University of Arkansas (2008-11). He has compiled a 119-56 college record and seen his teams finish in the Top 25 seven times, including Top 10 showings at Louisville in 2004 and 2006 and at Arkansas in 2011. His teams have also played in 11 bowl games, winning five.
Offense is his stock-in-trade. Bobby Petrino, who served as head coach at Western Kentucky in 2013 and with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons in 2007, co-authored the 2020 book “Inside the Pocket: an In-Depth Analysis of the Xs and Os” with Joe Metzka, PhD, and at Louisville in 2016 coached a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Lamar Jackson. Jackson, who has since gone on to become an NFL MVP with the Baltimore Ravens, passed for over 3,500 yards, ran for over 1,500 and generated 51 touchdowns while earning college football’s most prestigious award.
Bobby Petrino was himself a quarterback at Carroll College in Helena, Mont., while playing for his dad, Bobby Sr. The younger Petrino also began his coaching career as a graduate assistant there, in 1983.
Bobby Petrino Sr., who died in 2018 at age 81, served as Carroll’s head man for 28 years in all, winning 15 league championships (three with Bobby Jr. at QB) and reaching the NAIA playoffs nine times. His son was a two-time league MVP and two-time NAIA All-American, while soaking up everything the elder Petrino had to offer.
“That was a lot,” he said. “No. 1 is, he used to say, ‘Reach for the top of the rainbow,’ which I interpreted as, ‘Go for it. Don’t hold anything back. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do what you want to do. The second thing was, you can always find a way to win the game. His time coaching at Carroll, they didn’t always have the best talent or the best players, but they found a lot of ways to win games and win championships.”
Now Bobby Petrino is trying to do the same, in a rebuilding situation.
“I’m looking forward to looking ahead,” he told reporters at his introductory news conference. He reiterated that point later, saying that he wanted to remove his personal rearview mirror and keep his focus on the road ahead.
Bobby Petrino and his wife Becky have four children and six grandchildren. His brother Paul is the head coach at the University of Idaho