Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sports Talk: Your Thoughts on Charlie Strong and Bobby Petrino

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Jan. 15, 2014.  
It was time to hit the streets (or the 'book' in Facebook) again and find out how YOU feel about some recent big news in the Bluegrass sports world. Thanks again to the admins of the The Kentucky Sports Rivalry Facebook page, I was able to get some area feedback on last week's hubbub over the University of Louisville football program.

The situation: First came the announcement that Charlie Strong was hanging up his Cardinal hat and heading to Texas. On the coattails of that news came Athletic Director Tom Jurich's decision to bring back former coach Bobby Petrino to fill the vacant head coach position. Petrino had a 41-9 record during his four years at Louisville from 2003-2006. While the coach has a strong winning history, he not only left the university previously when bought out by the NFL, but his poor ethical and moral decisions have previously earned him the spotlight. This begs the question: Is this the type of person you want leading college athletes? 

I asked area sports fans their thoughts on these two questions:

  • How did you feel about Charlie Strong's departure and how it took place?
  • What do you think of Athletic Director Tom Jurich's decision to bring back former coach Bobby Petrino?

"I think Strong hit the lottery. Decent coach? Maybe. Texas quality coach? Don't think so. I don't think this is the HR hire Texas was capable of getting. We shall see.  Petrino is a proven winner and that is why he was re-hired, meanwhile hoping he wins enough to outweigh and make people forget all the negativity associated with him."
-Bradley Clark, UK Fan

"Tom Jurich's job as AD, was to find the best coach available for the University. No doubt, on the football level, he did just that. Bobby Petrino has less than stellar moral baggage, but, he has never violated NCAA rules, and puts a quality product on the field. I agree with his hire, but time will tell if it was a wise choice as to his off the field antics. As for Coach Strong leaving... it disappoints me, I am old enough to remember coaches that stayed for what seemed like forever. But, due to the Millions of dollars that are involved, those days are gone. And in my opinion, that is not a good thing!" 

-Don Chappell, UofL Fan

"I feel this is an interesting hire for UT. Strong is a good coach who recruits character guys and develops a winning program. The job at UT is one of the top 5 (maybe top 3) jobs in college athletics. The big difference between UT and 99% of all the schools is the non-football side. The boosters at UT are very involved and expect to be catered to. I would compare the UT job to UK basketball: you can win games but you have to be a PR type person and know how to relate to the fan base. We will see how Strong is able to adapt to the pressure of one the most high pressure jobs in college football. As for him not telling his players that he was leaving, they were on Christmas Break. Most, if not all, had left the school for the break. He was very respectful to U of L in that he waited to talk to Jurich before deciding on the UT position. It is tough thing for all parties involved when changing jobs like this. I think this is much better than leaving during the middle of the season and having an assistant tape a form letter to the players' lockers.” 

-Daniel Rigney, UK/Baylor Fan

"Strong to Texas is a great career move for him. Whether he's successful at Texas or not, you can't fault a man for taking a pay raise and a promotion. Him not addressing the players was awful though. As far as the Petrino hire goes, I support it. He's a winner and (sadly) that's all college sports cares about right now. If he's as successful this time around as the last, everyone will forget his indiscretions and he'll likely leave for a better job. Which is the same thing any of the other rumored candidates would've done after 3-5 successful years." 

- Josh Watson, UofL Fan

"I feel this was a last second chance for Jurich to look good by wins. He knew they were going into a tougher conference without Teddy (Bridgewater) or Strong so in a chance to save his face he threw all morals and history aside and went with what he thought was his best chance to look good on paper." 

-Josh Richardson, UK Fan

"As far as the Petrino hire, Jurich made a smart move by bringing a winning coach to the University. Louisville fans have recently witnessed such greatness in our athletes and the program that they represent. It has made all of us proud to support the Cardinals. We will certainly see success in the future under Petrino, I just hope that success isn't a prelude to more embarrassment through poor ethics and morals, or more heartbreak for players and fans being left high and dry for something "bigger and better." While I am not thrilled with the persona of Petrino and am weary of his return, I will always support UofL athletics and will cheer until the final seconds of the game have passed." 

- Michelle Delk, UofL Fan
"Strong's departure from Louisville was I think a decision made in haste. Hence why there has been some backlash from some fans over it. Yet as some have said before me it was a wise choice on Charlie Strong part. First and foremost this gentlemen is not a Louisville Alum and never had previous ties to UofL other than being its football coach. So there was no cause to hesitate on a sentimental level Secondly no disrespect to Louisville but as a football school Louisville is not on the level of tradition that say a Texas, Notre Dame or even Alabama are. So I think Strong decided to take a step up. He had proven himself at Louisville and now it was time to take the next step up." 

- Stephen Huber, IU Fan

"My thoughts on Strong's departure are that HE handled it about as well as he could've. You can't blame him one bit fit taking one of the premier jobs in all of sports. I would be upset with Texas if I were him for leaking the story before I even got a chance to tell my boss/players. You can knock Petrino for the way he left the Falcons but when he left Louisville in 2007 he told his players. My only real gripe with Strong has been his targeting of our commits after arriving in Texas. I realize that's a common practice but he was specifically asked about going after Florida recruits when he arrived and he said he wouldn't (and didn't) go after Florida recruits because "those recruits were earned on Florida's dime." Obviously he's compromised his own morals after feeling immediate pressure in Texas. I will however be forever grateful for him turning the program completely around in such a short time. I wish him the best. As for Petrino, I think Jurich hired the best candidate. He interviewed 8 people including some impressive coordinators who I think would've been good hires. I think that Jurich really believes that Petrino wants to stay here and finish his career as he said in his press conference. I'm not sold on that notion but as Bobby said, he's going to have to prove it. I personally love the hire, I loved it when Petrino was here the first time. It didn't matter who we played when he was our coach, you really felt as a fan, that you could win any game." 

-Chris Edwards, UofL Fan

"I think Strong made a smart move to leave Louisville as they transition to the ACC and their star QB is leaving. This way, Strong won't be exposed as a weak coach and can say he was the coach of Texas for at least 3 years." 

- Jared Hatter, UK Fan

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