By LARRY VAUGHT
Remember the time when some Kentucky football fans were unhappy that UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart refused to even consider hiring Bobby Petrino, a coach with a flair for putting together dynamic offenses but a coach with a world of off the field issues.
Petrino’s success on his return to Louisville just made coach Mark Stoops’ early struggles at UK seem even worse. However, even though Barnhart is not the type to do so, you just know he would like to say, “I told you so.”
While Kentucky has won seven games the last three seasons and earned three straight bowl berths, Louisville has hit rock bottom. The Cards are not only being beaten, they are being trashed. A 24-7 loss like the one UK had at Tennessee Saturday that has devastated UK fans would seem like a moral victory for the Cardinals.
That’s why it was no stunner that Louisville athletics director Vince Tyra fired Petrino Sunday even though it might cost almost $14 million to buy out his contract. Louisville has lost seven straight games and Tyra was stating the obvious when he said he “did not have the confidence” that Petrino could save the program.
Louisville has fired football coach Bobby Petrino two days after the Cardinals lost their seventh game in a row to fall to 2-8.
“We want to thank Bobby for guiding our football program to some of the better seasons we have had historically at UofL during his two separate tenures here,” Tyra said in a statement. “However, at this time we feel the program needs different leadership and we owe it to our student-athletes and fans to get this turned around.”
Reports have surfaced that as many as 20 Louisville players have asked for transfer releases. Three recruits have de-committed.
“It was clear the players weren’t responding. The coaches’ and the players’ efforts have to go in the right direction, but I didn’t feel it was going that way,” Tyra said after announcing the firing two days after the Cards lost 56-10 at Syracuse when they had four turnovers and 10 penalties. “Something’s missing, and in this case I felt like we need to work with a different time frame.
“We’re 2-8. We don’t have to be 2-10. It doesn’t have to end that way, and even though people are writing that script for us, they can change that story. And it starts with them, and the coaches will support that. But we need the players to want to win and want to be here and enjoy football.”