Not For Everyone

Bobby Petrino steps into a position one other coach was weary of

Dec. 12, 2007

By Tom Hart

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Tom Hart calls football play-by-play for CSTV and is a contributor to
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Late Tuesday night Bobby Petrino was introduced as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.  It seems the two were made for each other.  While the Pig Sooey crowd is ecstatic, the real winner is in Winston-Salem preparing his team for another bowl game.  It's the first time in Wake Forest school history that the Deacons will go bowling in consecutive seasons.


Just as Petrino seems to fit into the rabid Razorback scene, Jim Grobe is in the perfect spot at Wake Forest.  Maybe it's the fact that the mascot wears a tie and tails that suggests Wake's coach should be a gentleman.  But I don't think that's how Wake AD Ron Wellman showed Grobe the light.  Perhaps Wellman shared his own experience of his recruitment to be take over as AD at the University of Tennessee when Doug Dickey stepped down.  Wellman was set to accept the position, but when UT leaked word before Wellman was ready, he pulled out.




Grobe was in the same situation with Arkansas.  While being considered for a number of openings, Grobe entered talks with the Razorbacks.  When word leaked that an alumni group had procured funds for the hire, Grobe took a step back.


In both instances, the men were rudely introduced to the passionate fan bases of these SEC schools.  This same passion was evident late Tuesday when the entire room broke into a Hog call, but it was also there through ugly accusations and name calling over the last part of the Houston Nutt era.  While some find all of the attention flattering I'm betting it rubbed the guys in Winston the wrong way. 


In the old days scuttlebutt never left the tidy radius around the water cooler or barber shop, these days it shoots around the globe in the matter of time it takes to strike a key.  If these fans (and administrators) acted like this on day one, how would they behave the rest of the time?


Fans packed a "press conference" late on a cold and foggy Tuesday evening in Fayetteville when they introduced Petrino.  They discussed exemplary citizenship, class, and dignity.  Petrino should understand that class and dignity will be shown to him only as long as he wins.  Then again, if it doesn't work out he needn't stick around anyway.


Winston-Salem is a wonderful city to live in.  The media coverage is for the most part friendly - and it's almost always fair.  Grobe and Wellman deal daily with bright kids in a small campus environment.  The fan base isn't enormous, but it's dedicated.  I believe Grobe learned all he needed to know about Arkansas when word was leaked that the boosters had passed the hat. 


There seem to be certain coaches and administrators that are perfect for that type of atmosphere - Nick Saban, Pete Carroll, and Steve Spurrier come to mind.  Jim Grobe - just like his AD before him - seems to have decided that the shenanigans aren't worth it.


Up in Michigan they're having a hard time believing a "Michigan Man" would be happier on the bayou then in Maize and Blue.  They should quit looking so far south and take a glance towards the Queen City.  Brian Kelly has worked wonders at Cincinnati, but it's not the first time he's done that.


Many know about the success Kelly had at Grand Valley State - turning the program around and leading the Lakers to consecutive national championships.  What few understand is just how hard it is to be a successful head coach at the Division II level.  D-II coaches have the same challenges as many others, with a very important added twist.


Because of scholarship limitations, coaches work with a salary cap.  Of course it's not called that - but it works the same way.  Only a few of the best players - typically proven upper classmen or blue chip freshmen and transfers - are on full scholarships.  The rest of the programs scholarship money is divvied up.  Coaches must decide, perhaps based on spring practice, maybe on the stats from the previous season, how they are going to divide the money.  That must be the easy part.  The hard part is simple management and people skills (hey, maybe he could take Petrino's old job in Atlanta!).  How do you sell a kid on the idea that he's only going to get a quarter scholarship, or a third, because you think someone else is more deserving?  At the D-II level it isn't about coddling egos when the depth chart is posted, it's about balancing check books when the money is passed out.  That's serious stuff.




We've heard plenty of complaints about the BCS this year - and as much as I want to I won't add to it here.  But in my mind, the biggest jokes of the post season will take place in Las Vegas and Detroit.  For years we've heard that certain matchups weren't possible or plausible because they would be rematches of regular season games.  I understand that - although I admittedly liked the idea of Air Force and Navy meeting in the Poinsettia Bowl for a rematch.  So what gives with BYU-UCLA Part II?  And this just in, Central Michigan has already lost to Purdue this season.