Louisville forgave but clearly did not forget coach Bobby Petrino, who was named head coach of the Cardinals on Thursday.
Even with some loose ends on a contract that includes a $10 million buyout left undone early Thursday, the Louisville Athletic Association’s personnel committee unanimously approved Petrino’s hiring, which the school announced with a press release and video labeled “Hungry for More.”
“I’ve always had a sign in my locker room that says, ‘It’s a Show me World,’ ” said Petrino, who coached the Atlanta Falcons in 2008 but lasted less than a season before bolting for Arkansas.
It is Petrino’s second stint as head coach of the Cardinals, and there will be heated debate over whether he deserved a second chance leading an FBS program.
“I’m different in a lot of ways,” Petrino said. “First and foremost, I keep my family as my focus.”
His coaching record in the college ranks is excellent.
Petrino has eight winning seasons, four 10-win seasons and 31 total years in coaching.
Petrino emerged from six candidates who interviewed for the Cardinals’ head-coaching vacancy left by Charlie Strong’s departure to Texas.
The 52-year-old Petrino’s first head coaching gig was at Louisville, where he went 41-9 in four seasons (2003-06) and led the Cardinals to an Orange Bowl victory in 2006.
He then left for the Falcons. After less than one season there, Petrino moved on to Arkansas in 2008 but was fired in April 2012 after a scandal that involved a “pattern of misleading behavior” uncovered only after Petrino and a hand-picked football office hire, Jessica Dorrell, became his mistress and the two crashed on a motorcycle. Petrino, married with children, changed his version of events days after filing a police report because other accounts were made public.
Petrino, who completed his first season in 2013 at Western Kentucky with an 8-4 record, was interviewed Tuesday by Jurich and emerged as the top candidate to replace Charlie Strong. Strong was named head coach at Texas on Monday.
“We had a great day, and a long discussion,” Petrino said of his interview with Jurich, which spanned eight hours and was described as grueling by the veteran coach. “Tom understands that this is where I want to finish my career. Emotionally, I’m tied to doing that. Contractually, I’m tied to doing that.”
Other possible candidates were Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason and Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris.
Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford also received interviews.
In December 2012, Petrino signed a four-year contract at Western Kentucky with a base salary of $850,000. His buyout includes a mandatory home-and-home series.
Strong left Louisville for Texas after a 12-1 season in 2013. He replaces Mack Brown, who stepped down after guiding the Longhorns for 16 years.
Bedford, who this season produced a unit that ranked No. 1 in FBS in total defense and No. 2 in scoring defense, joined Strong in Austin.
Bedford is a Texas native who played cornerback for the Longhorns in the early 1980s.