Bobby Petrino

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I don’t often take a person to task. I might stick up for someone (like Britany Spears, etc.), but I tend to prefer happier commentaries on society. Today will be an exception.

I can’t believe Bobby Petrino. For those who are unaware, Bobby Petrino resigned as coach of the Atlanta Falcons to take the Head Coach position at the University of Arkansas after only 13 games as head coach–where he racked up a 3-10 record. It isn’t that he would leave to take another job. It’s that he would tell Arthur Blank (the Falcons owner) on the day that Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison, and announce it publicly the next day.

If I’m a Falcons player, I’m bitter, if not furious. I played my hardest and sacrificed a lot for him, and he didn’t appear to give me an honest effort in return. He walked out in our darkest moment…and coached us through a trampling on Monday Night Football knowing he would have press conference the next day announcing his taking of the Arkansas job. Ouch.

I’m not Bobby Petrino. Maybe there were things going on behind the scenes in Falconland that I’m unaware of. They are his mocassins, not mine. But, from where I sit…I would be looking to transfer out of Arkansas if I were a player. I need to know my coach is really in it with me…and that he’ll be there when things are good, bad, or ugly. For anyone who has played team sports, what Petrino did is unfathomable. Even if he’d waited until the end of the season…but the day Michael Vick goes to prison? Come on!

Also, props to Long Beach Poly High School (my alma mater) for winning another CIF football championship…soon some college may grab Raul Lara (their head coach)…maybe Bobby Petrino will be available.

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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9 thoughts on “Bobby Petrino

  1. I think two things are in order here. Personally I don’t blame Petrino for leaving the NFL to go back to coach college football at all. Clearly he is a college coach first and foremost. It seemed to me during his short time in Atlanta that he wasn’t adjusting to the fast paced NFL system. So to me Bobby Petrino is clearly a college coach all the way. Now that being said, he should have waited at least until the NFL season was over before he left Atlanta. He has clearly left the Falcons in a learch (spelling error?) that’s for sure.
    I think he deserves heat for leaving during the season, but I don’t blame him for leaving the NFL to go back to college coaching where he clearly belongs. Your thoughts.

  2. I have some experience in this area. The church I preached at in Louisville is one of those churches that needs to close. It should close but it won’t because people are content with keeping house. The preacher who was there before the guy that I replaced recognized that he was not a good fit at that church. His heart was more in outreach and he is now doing church planting. So, he left. But, when he left he burned a lot of bridges. He recognized that the leadership was not great and the future was not bright and he encouraged a lot of the younger families to leave. He did not leave well and he did not leave truthfully. He got up in front of the church and said he was leaving for financial reasons. When I took the job, I did so very naive. I just wanted a chance and this church gave me a chance. I was too impatient. Colin, when you get done with Comps, don’t be impatient. Wait for something that you know will be a good fit and that you feel good about. Even when I took the job I felt uneasy but I was happy to have a job. Anyway, I recognized not long after I got there that it wasn’t a good fit. I got along with the people personally but philosophically we did not see eye-to-eye. They didn’t care about doing anything and that doesn’t jive well with me. So, after I had been there a year, I started planning my out. This time, though, I took my time. I waited even though it was difficult. And when I finally found the church I am at now in Fort Worth I was honest with the church. I told them I was moving for family considerations, which was true, but I also told them that I thought they needed someone more in line with who they were. When I left the church, I got up and thanked everyone and personally told them great memories I would take with me and did all of this from the pulpit. Deep down there is a lot of negative emotions that I had towards that church but I didn’t burn bridges. Now I say this not to put myself on a pedestal because certainly I am not perfect and this example would definitely show that. Even though I left well, there were some things I could have done better. But there is a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things. Coach Petrino should have just been honest. Rather than going into Arthur Blank’s office and saying, “I am going to be your coach next year” which he did on Monday, he should have gone in and said, “You know, it’s just not working. I came here expecting to coach Vick. He’s not here. I have a good opportunity at Arkansas and I realize I am a better fit in college. I can coach the reset of the season or I can leave now.” If he had said that, he might get the benefit of the doubt. There’s a right way and a wrong way. As preachers the same thing goes.

  3. Good thoughts, everyone. I’m in agreement with Trey and Kent…with a nod to Colin. The “black market” you speak of exists…as it does in any occupation. It’s incumbent on the preacher to remain open to God’s leading, be honest about “fit” issues, and to err on the side of loyalty to one’s current ministry (my opinion). And in the case they need to make a change…leave well.
    There’s no doubt in my mind Petrino fumbled this one. But, his fumble isn’t making a change…it’s how he’s making the change…and the fact that only once has he made it 3 years at any position over a career that dates back decades. That suggests hidden issues to me.
    Everyone is dogpiling on Petrino (perhaps this is the wrong expression to use in light of Mike Vick), so perhaps we need to lighten up. Nevertheless…his behavior is typical in today’s society…and it’s bad whether people go through their marriages that way, jobs that way, or churches that way.

  4. A fair concern, Collin. As I said in my post, there is very little wrong with recognizing a bad fit and doing something about it.
    What’s RIGHT, however, is leaving well. Leaving well is always at least as important as entering well. This is where Petrino (and frankly, some ministers) failed miserably.
    That’s not to say ministers should always be looking for their next church. Far from it. And the “black market,” as you put it, is out there. It’s a good-ol-boys network, and the best connected will always get offers. Choose wisely; leave well. The rest will take care of itself.

  5. I have not yet entered ministry yet because I am about to begin my last semester of graduate school. However, as I understand the situation of preachers, perhaps we should not be the first ones to cast our stones.
    Preachers have been known for “playing the field” and “setting their hooks for a big catch” while preaching at a church they say they are happy with.
    So, what do y’all think? How messy is the black market of preacher searches? That is not the reason I am entering ministry to be apart of, but it seems to be more the norm than the exception.

  6. There is no defense for his process. Kent’s right on that one. Petrino seems to have handled this VERY poorly. And his track record suggests he won’t be at Arkansas long.
    I do think this situation begs the following question–is it better to stay in a job for which you are ill-suited for the sake of “keeping your commitment”(in his case, the NFL) than to move to a place where you know your gifts and skills are best suited, even if it means a painful transition?
    I think he may have made the right decision and gone about it in all the wrong ways.
    Spurrier, Saban, and others have had to ask the same question. Got to wonder if Petrino quickly realized the same conclusions they came to.

  7. Tim-
    Anything Petrino does should surprise no one. I just moved back to Ft. Worth after living in Louisville for 2 years and that guy was notorious for always being a “grass is always greener” guy. He is the guy who talked to Auburn while Tommy Tuberville was still the coach and he got caught. He talked to LSU after Saban left all the while telling people in Louisville that he would be there for a long time. He is the guy who talked to the Oakland Raiders all the while telling people in Louisville that he would be there a long time. During his last year at U of L he signed a ten-year contract and had a huge press conference in which he professed his love for the university and said that there was nowhere else he wanted to be. They went to the Orange Bowl last year and he made a statement right before the game about how much he loved Louisville and would be there forever. The day after the Orange Bowl he was introduced at the Falcons coach. He had been talking to the Falcons while he was coaching the Orange Bowl and making those statements. The guy is a liar. But most coaches are to some degree. I just don’t know how Arkansas could trust that guy or how a recruit could trust him. Great coach. Questionable character as a human.