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January 14, 2014
Winners Choice Sports

By: Rocco Gasparro


LOUISVILLE, Ky.- Taking over a football program in the middle of January isn't an easy task, but University of Louisville head football coach Bobby Petrino has hit the ground running, and a lot of the details are starting to come together.

Petrino was hired back to Louisville last Thursday and he has worked tirelessly putting together his staff and getting a leg up on the first recruiting visit scheduled for this weekend.

"It's been pretty wild since Thursday," Petrino said. "It's been a lot of fun, but basically been working hard in a couple of different areas. Number one is putting a staff together and then working hard at getting to know the players on our team."

There has been a constant run of players heading up to his office trying to say hello to their coach, but also getting a jump on what needs to be done in the coming months to become better football players and student-athletes.

"I've had a couple of team meetings since I've been here," Petrino said on Monday. "I want the players to get into the routine of a Sunday night team meeting. That ensures that they are back to campus and ready to go back to class on Monday."

Roster management is one of the biggest things Petrino has focused on since taking the job. He has been busy evaluating the current talent on the roster to see what areas he needs to fill when filling out this all important recruiting class.

"I think that was really important for us to do was to watch games from last year, evaluate the talent that we have, how we recruit to that talent that's already here," Petrino said. "In recruiting, the one thing you always try to do is get better than what you already have. And you always tell your players that, that we're trying to recruit someone who's better than you are, but then they have to come in and prove it and grow up and mature and normally, it takes a couple of years for that to happen."

Petrino, who has worked furiously to assemble his staff, made his first official hire on Monday in offensive coordinator Garrick McGee, who has had a relationship with Petrino since he was a student-athlete at Arizona State.

"Garrick and I go way back, back to when he was 18 years old and I was coaching him at Arizona State," Petrino said. "And then any time I've had an opportunity to hire him, I've hired him. I had the opportunity at the Jacksonville Jaguars. I had an opportunity to hire him to Arkansas, to come in as the quarterback coach, and it was the ability for him to get closer to his mom in Tulsa. I did tell him that if Paul (Petrino) leaves, you would be the coordinator. So he coached the quarterbacks for a couple of years and then coordinated the offense for a couple of years."

Coordinating the offense for Petrino is a slippery-slope because he is considered one of the best offensive minds in the game, but he feels he and McGee are very similar in their offensive approaches.

"It's really fun because we think a lot alike," Petrino said. "He knows exactly how I like to coach quarterbacks; he ran the drills, I've made him do things when he was playing and now to watch him coach it and do a great job with not only the position of quarterbacks, but overseeing the entire offense. One of the first calls I made was to Garrick and I'm just really excited that he's here."

Petrino and his staff, which will be announced later in the week, will hit the road recruiting on Thursday, the first day the staff is allowed out on the road. So the next couple of days will be extremely busy, but Petrino is having a blast.

"It has been nonstop," Petrino said. "You get up early and get to work in the morning and it has been a lot of fun. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Going in a lot of different directions now, like even this morning, where we started working on recruiting, met with compliance, and academic support, so all of our coaches know where our players are academically and where we are striving to go when we are out recruiting. There is a lot of work to do and a lot to get educated on every part of the program."

While there is a lot to get done over the next couple of months, the program is on solid footing after going 23-3 over the last two years, but Petrino isn't about to stand pat. He worked too hard to build the program before that he knows what needs to be done to keep the Cardinals on an "upward trajectory." 

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