Bowling Green, KY – Bobby Petrino will have an opportunity to rebuild his tarnished image at Western Kentucky, with the school announcing it has hired the controversial football coach as the new architect of its program on Monday.
It will be Petrino's first job since being relieved of his duties at Arkansas back in April following revelations of an extramarital affair with a former Razorbacks volleyball player whom he had hired as a staff member.
Petrino also returns to the state where he began a head coaching career that's had its share of both success and scandal. The 51-year-old guided Louisville for four seasons from 2003-06, leading the Cardinals to a pair of double-digit win campaigns and top-10 rankings in the final Associated Press poll during that time frame.
Louisville amassed a 41-9 overall record and captured two conference championships (Conference USA in 2004 and Big East in 2006) under Petrino's tenure, which ended when he took the head coaching position with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons in January of 2007.
Petrino lasted only 13 games with the Falcons, however, before famously bolting to take the Arkansas job with three weeks still remaining in the 2007 season. Atlanta was 3-10 at the time of his departure.
The Razorbacks went just 5-7 in Petrino's first year at the helm in 2008, but compiled a 29-10 record over the following three seasons and went to a pair of major bowls. Arkansas lost to Ohio State in the 2011 Sugar Bowl and earned a 29-16 victory over Kansas State in this past January's Cotton Bowl.
Arkansas finished 11-2 and fifth in the final AP poll last season, which would turn out to be Petrino's last.
Less than three months after the Razorbacks' Cotton Bowl win, he was involved in a motorcycle accident in which a police report later revealed that 25-year- old Jessica Dorrell was riding as a passenger, which contradicted Petrino's initial statement that he was alone on the vehicle.
Shortly after the April 1 crash, Petrino was fired by Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long for "abusing his authority" and "jeopardizing the integrity of the football program."
Long claimed Petrino, a married father of four, "knowingly misled" the investigation of the accident and had multiple opportunities to rectify his mistake, leading to his firing "with cause."
The Arkansas AD also stated that Petrino and Dorrell's inappropriate relationship "gave her an unfair advantage for a position in Petrino's staff," and declared the hiring to be a conflict of interest.
One of only three coaches to lead two different schools to a BCS Bowl, Petrino will get his new start as the replacement for Willie Taggart, named the new head coach at South Florida on Saturday.
Taggart steered the Hilltoppers to a second straight 7-5 season in 2012, with the program earning the first bowl bid in its five-year existence as an FBS program with an invitation to the upcoming Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit.
Defensive coordinator Lance Guidry will serve as interim head coach in the bowl game, which takes place on Dec. 26. The Hilltoppers will face Central Michigan.