He’s the most polarizing figure in Auburn football. His influence could have a titanic effect on the future of the program. The thing is, he’s not even in the program right now and hasn’t been since 2002.
Bobby Petrino, the controversial ex-Arkansas coach, has emerged as one of the leaders to become the head coach at Auburn. His on-field accomplishments are pretty amazing. He served as offensive coordinator at Auburn in 2002, and his offense was very dynamic, leading Auburn to a share of the SEC West title. The next year, he took the head coaching job at Louisville. In four years with Louisville, he had 41-9 record and led the Cardinals to their first ever BCS bowl in 2006. He became the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 2007, but went just 3-10. Turns out, the NFL wasn’t for him, just as the NFL wasn’t for Nick Saban or Lou Holtz. He was then hired by Arkansas, where he went 34-17 (21-5 his last two seasons) before getting the boot in the 2012 offseason.
You can’t argue that he’s a very good football coach. His 75-26 record didn’t just magically fall into his lap. He’s the only coach in college football history to lead two different programs to their first BCS bowl, and with the pedigree Auburn has (already having been to two BCS bowls, including winning the national title in 2010), there’s no doubt Auburn would become a legitimate national title contender year in and year out with Petrino.
That’s not the issue for a lot of Auburn fans.
Many Auburn fans, alumni and students have great concern over his off-field issues, and they are right to. He was involved in the infamous Jetgate scandal in 2003. He left the Falcons before the season was over by leaving a four-sentence note in each player’s locker. Then, most notably, he had an affair with a 25-year old blonde ex-volleyball player at Arkansas, then the two got in a motorcycle crash. Petrino then lied to the school about having someone else with him, and when it was revealed who was with him, his days as a Hog were done.
Auburn fans have a right to be scared off by his past gestures. That’s understandable. You don’t have to like the guy or specifically want him as head coach.
However, some of the statements I have heard from Auburn fans have been just short of insane. I have heard multiple Auburn fans claim that if Petrino is hired, they will burn their copy of the Auburn Creed. Little do they know, that in actuality, Auburn hiring Petrino would not be a violation of the Auburn Creed at all.
Auburn University takes pride in being influenced by Christianity, obviously. Most people know that. For those who don’t understand the connection, the Auburn Creed mentions “walking humbly with God.” Plus, the school is in Southern Alabama. Not everyone who attends Auburn or works at Auburn is a Christian, but the school’s values go hand-in-hand with Christianity. This is an undeniable fact.
Thusly, one of the most important values taught in Christianity is to love others and give second chances. Never give up on someone. Do not ridicule someone solely based on their past, rugged or clean.
That is why, if Auburn hires Bobby Petrino, that wouldn’t necessarily be a violation of the Auburn Creed, but rather, Auburn simply saying that they’re willing to forgive Petrino’s past issues and give him his last shot at being a head coach.
So, what would make one think that Bobby Petrino has even changed his ways enough to impress the higher-ups at Auburn? Since his accident and scandal at Arkansas, Petrino has been hard at work fixing his life. He’s been working hard to save his marriage and change his view of things.
The following is a quote from Bobby Petrino back in August:
“I take responsibility for it and I am really sorry. I have played it over and over in my head a million times. How could I do this? How could this happen? And not just the hiring. Or that day. But my actions, my behavior — for months it was just wrong. I’m working hard to save my marriage. I’m working one day at a time. I want to stay married. That’s my main priority right now. Making things right with my family. … I’ve made mistakes and I’m going to be a better person for it. … I think I’ve got to take this one day at a time, continue to improve as a person and as a husband. I’m also going to continue to work on football. And I just hope and pray that I get that opportunity again.”
One could say that he’s lying through his teeth, but according to anyone who’s talked to him recently, everything he spoke of is the truth. This possibly includes SEC commissioner Mike Slive. Multiple sources have reported that Slive, who was once against any SEC school hiring Petrino, met with Petrino recently, and was very impressed, and thusly has no problem with an SEC school hiring him.
Also, Auburn is Petrino’s dream job. If he comes to Auburn, has success and stays clean, he could be at Auburn for a long, long time. He knows a job at Auburn would be his last chance as a football coach anywhere, so he wouldn’t dare screw this up by doing something bone-headed. Also, since Petrino is currently unemployed and he wants to be the Tigers’ head coach so bad, Auburn wouldn’t have to fork up too much cash.
You don’t have to like Petrino. I’m not telling you that he needs to be your favorite candidate.
However, for those of you who have claimed that you will burn the Auburn Creed if he’s hired, you obviously are the one who’s out of touch with what Auburn University’s all about. The Auburn Creed is influenced by Christianity, and Christianity says to never give up on someone and give them chances to redeem themselves. If you’re going to abandon all loyalty to Auburn University just because of who the school hires as the football coach, I don’t know what to tell you except that that’s one of the most pathetic things I have ever heard.
If Bobby Petrino is the guy Auburn goes with, don’t abandon the program and the school just because the school decided not to abandon him.