Bobby Petrino has accepted blame for a 4-8 season at Arkansas in 2012, but has his sights set on a return to the sidelines in 2013 with a fresh opportunity.
Petrino was fired as head coach at Arkansas last April after getting caught up in a cover up of an affair with a student-athlete development coordinator. Petrino hid details about a motorcycle accident that involved he and Jessica Dorrell from his superiors at Arkansas, which ultimately led to the school making the decision to release Petrino of his duties.
Arkansas hired John L. Smith on a 10-month contract and the Razorbacks went from winning 11 wins in 2011 to just four games in 2012. Arkansas has since hired Brett Bielema from Wisconsin to lead the program moving forward. The season was a mess for the Razorbacks, who were thought to be a team capable of making a run for a BCS berth, if not a BCS Championship run. The struggles of Arkansas were difficult for Petrino to watch from a distance, and he felt guilty about the situation the Razorbacks were thrown in to because of his actions.
“It was very, very difficult," Petrino said while reflecting on the past year with WGFX in Nashville. "It’s always been a way of life for me, not necessarily a job. I grew up the son of a coach and it was just something you did every year, every fall. It was difficult, and then to watch them struggle and not play the way they played before, I felt a lot of responsibility for that.”
Arkansas led the SEC in scoring offense in 2011, averaging 36.8 points per game. The Razorbacks averaged just 23.6 points per game in 2012, ranking 12th in the 14-team SEC. Petrino is considered more of an offensive coach but the defense also struggled, allowing 30.4 points per game (12th in SEC) in 2012 after allowing a more respectable 22.2 points per game in 2011.
Petrino was hired by Western Kentucky in December after the Hilltoppers lost Willie Taggart to South Florida in the coaching carousel. After a year removed from the game up close, Petrino has refocused on his priorities away from the field and is ready to embrace his fresh start in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
“It’ll be fun," Petrino said. "You really miss it when you’re not out there, so to be able to get back on the field and work with young men and try to help them excel is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Western Kentucky's spring football game is scheduled for April 20.