For Louisville Football the time has come to move on from Bobby Petrino

LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 15: Head coach Bobby Petrino of the Louisville Cardinals watchs as players warm up before the start of the game between the Louisville Cardinals and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Cardinal Stadium on September 15, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - SEPTEMBER 15: Head coach Bobby Petrino of the Louisville Cardinals watchs as players warm up before the start of the game between the Louisville Cardinals and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Cardinal Stadium on September 15, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) /

It’s become increasingly clear through five games that Bobby 2.0 just isn’t cutting it. The truth hurts. For the sake of the Louisville Football program – it’s looking like it’s time to move on.

Well, if we weren’t sure before, we are now. Or at least we should be.

In the programs first year without Lamar Jackson, we as fans really didn’t know what to expect. We knew our wideouts are among the most talented in the conference (maybe even the country), we knew our stable of running backs was stocked full of talent, and we knew Jawon Pass had picked us over Alabama. With Bobby’s “prototypical QB,” the heir apparent, Bobby Ball was back.

Or so we thought… In reality, nothing is coming together. I’m not going to talk about defense in this article because Bobby is (or was) an offensive “genius”. And you’d have to be blind to not see that the offense – or lack thereof – is the least impressive part of our football team.

But how? Petrino’s offenses have always been high powered, high scoring, and balanced. He’s notorious for the fake punts, jet sweeps, and trick plays that keep an opposing defense on their toes. Where has any of that been this year? For all the talk about “Speed City” before the season began, we sure aren’t seeing any of that on display for the Cards.

The time has come to move on from Bobby Petrino.

What Went Wrong?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Alabama is Alabama – they’re just that good. Then came the monsoon against Indiana State, and we couldn’t really judge the teams performance under those conditions. Week three brought WKU to Cardinal Stadium on a clear Saturday night – the game we were supposed to show just how good we could be. Instead, Pass wasn’t on the same page as his receivers and was replaced with Malik Cunningham after just three passes.

Louisville pulled out a 20-17 victory over the Hilltoppers, all while mustering a team total 292 yards of offense. Thanks to Western’s kicker for missing the potential game-tying FG with one second left. Trust me, CardNation appreciates it.

Week four opened up ACC play at Virginia, a decidedly bad football team that’s got a couple guys on each side of the ball that kinda stand out. Nothing to write home about. Really only one series needs to be spoken of to sum up this game: first and goal from the three yard line after a Rodjay Burns INT, Puma Pass into the ball game.

Chris Graham of the Augusta Free Press said it best:

"First down and goal, Louisville. Get three yards, and the Cardinals would lead in a game in which they had been dominated to that point.First-down play: Jeremy Smith takes a handoff and gains a yard, brought down by Jordan Mack and R.J. Proctor, among others.Second down: Smith, again, this time for no gain, brought down by Zane Zandier.Third down now. You’re thinking, OK, two runs off-tackle didn’t work, so Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is going to go run-pass option.He didn’t."

Louisville had just 88 yards of offense to that point, and settled for a field goal. I don’t want to go into too much more detail or I may vomit. This is the offensive genius we paid so much to return to Louisville?

Finally, the Cards started out a little shaky vs FSU on Saturday, but they converted on third down and the offense looked good. Bobby’s play calling was balanced and seemed to attack the weakest points of Florida State’s defense. Sure, Jawon Pass missed a couple (or 5) wide open throws over the middle, two of which were on back to back plays, would have been sure TD’s and given the Cards a 10 point lead with the game almost 2 minutes from over.

This article isn’t here to talk about the positives. Go read my friend Presley’s article if you want to lick your wounds, fans.

But, I don’t need to rehash the PASS PLAY CALLED ON FIRST DOWN ON THE 19-YARD LINE WITH LESS THAN 2 MINUTES LEFT IN THE GAME THAT WAS PICKED BY FSU WHO WENT ON TO BEAT US 28-24 now do I? And can’t forget this gem from head coach at the post-game…

Now let’s get on with it, shall we?

Lamar made Petrino look Good

Honestly, Lamar could make any head coach look good, but that isn’t the point. Remember a few years back when Petrino headed to Atlanta to coach one Mike Vick, but it never happened? We’ve all been thinking Bobby couldn’t wait to get Puma Pass in there, his big pocket passer, and sling the ball all over the field. But what if we have it all wrong?

Here it is: Bobby Petrino wants to coach a mobile quarterback. Not just a mobile quarterback, a running quarterback. He’s over the guy who’s strong in the pocket, those game managers. He pulled Jawon Pass like it wasn’t anything, hoping Malik could be like Lamar. Lamar Jackson was Petrino’s Mike Vick.

Petrino is having to make all the calls on offense again, and without Lamar, it’s not looking like he’s got much to offer. I know a lot of people are saying “it’s only five games!”, and yeah, technically you’re right. But you know what else it is? It’s year FIVE. Five whole YEARS of Bobby 2.0  and this is the product on the field?

We’ve come to a point where we have to ask ourselves: was it really Bobby’s offense and play calling, or was Lamar just THAT good? Based on the way this year is trending, I have to go with the latter.

Lamar could turn nothing into a big time something. Jackson was a transcendent talent, you could even say the most electric college football player ever. Heck, even Vick himself said Lamar is better than him! How much coaching do you really have to do when you’ve got that guy running your offense?

Petrino is having to make all the calls on offense again, and without Lamar, it’s not looking like he’s got much to offer. I know a lot of people are saying “it’s only five games!”, and yeah, technically you’re right. But you know what else it is? It’s year FIVE. Five whole YEARS of Bobby 2.0  and this is the product on the field?

The most frustrating thing about Louisville’s season this year is all of us know the caliber of talent we have on this team. Underutilized talent is the theme of 2018 for Cardinal football. And that’s why despite drops, trips, and fumbles… Bobby Petrino is still the problem. It doesn’t matter how many play makers you have on your team, if you don’t put them in position consistently to get the ball, they aren’t able to make an impact.

Granted, there have been some plays drawn up that have worked to perfection, and the receiver just drops the ball. But those plays have been the minority thus far. More often we’ve seen plays that make you say “….WHAT?!” See: goal line play at UVA.

The fact that before the first half vs FSU, this is the kind of “offense” we’ve been seeing? I’m sorry but that’s just unacceptable. Moving on…

Who are we comparing ourselves to?

Petrino was supposedly hired to help UL compete with Clemson and Florida State. While we did beat FSU twice in back to back seasons, and took Clemson to the wire in 2016, as I mentioned earlier that’s looking more and more like Lamar Jackson just transcended the quarterback position like no other.

I had to do the math on this myself, looking at single year records and adding the numbers. For the past five years, Louisville is 20-12 in ACC play. Now you might say that’s not bad. But is it really good? Consider, over the same span, Clemson is 35-5 in ACC play. Florida State is 30-10. The Atlantic division is tops in the conference year after year, and even though teams like Boston College and NC State have years where they’re better than normal… Louisville should always be at least a step ahead of them.

More from Louisville Cardinals News

It pains me to say this, and trust me it’s pained me to hear it coming from local radio, news, and fans alike. But some of us in this fandom are SO gung-ho for Coach Petrino that we’re beginning to compare our Cards to KENTUCKY. Yes, Kentucky FOOTBALL. “Well UK is having maybe their best season ever and they would kill for 8 wins every year, and even in a down year I know Bobby can get us that.” Really? Eight wins?

Why has this mentality leaked into our fanbase? I know I’m not happy with 8 wins every year, especially with the talent on our squad and the fact that we claim to be right behind Clemson and Florida State, two of the most elite programs (save FSU this year with a new coach) in college football. The fact that we had the Heisman winner and didn’t even make a New Years Six bowl is, again, unacceptable. Also, “competing” with elite teams doesn’t just mean when the lights come on at game time, it’s competing as a PROGRAM and continuing to improve. Louisville hasn’t done that under Petrino.

Think about Bobby P’s record against ranked teams, not just since he’s returned, but period. Our very own Presley Meyer wrote back in May about Petrino’s seat getting warm. Here we are in September and it’s as if all our greatest fears have been confirmed.

"His teams are a combined 1-10 against ranked opponents. They are 0-7 in competition against ranked opponents on the road. Not only this, but Petrino’s teams have not come close in most contests."

Again, this isn’t a five game “panic” article. It’s been five years and the Cards sit at 2-3 with losses to Virginia and a crappy (yes, crappy) FSU team. Petrino hasn’t been getting it done against ranked opponents, and now he’s blowing it against nobodies? That can’t happen here. We’re trying to stay relevant.

Y’all should definitely read Pres’ article even if you have already. In light of how this season is going I think some of the raw numbers will shock you. As if the product on the field already hasn’t.

Family man

Can anyone tell me what credentials Bobby’s son or any of his sons-in-law have to coach football? Anyone? This should be the shortest part of this whole article then.

The obvious is, nobody on this staff holds anyone accountable for their actions – there’s no fire on the sideline, and it’s as if plays are being called and personnel are being changed by spinning a wheel on the sideline similar to the one used in a game of Twister.

It comes down to this, in all honesty, Bobby isn’t going to fire his family. So while replacing the assistants with people who are actually qualified may remedy the situation, it just won’t happen without Petrino being let go. And you don’t even wanna know the effect this abysmal start to the year could have on our recruiting, but go read Jacob’s article anyway.

Not saying that Bobby doesn’t have what it takes to coach at all anymore, just not at Louisville. It’s not a good fit. And I never thought I would be saying that, but I have been patient enough since his return and given enough excuses when he underachieved. No more of that. If Bobby underachieved with a once in a lifetime player like Lamar Jackson, chances are the results will be as disappointing or worse when that guy is gone. We’re seeing it right now.

So what now?

If it were me, I start Jordan Travis on Friday night. I play guys like TuTu Atwell even more, Keion Wakefield, Hassan Hall, Javian Hawkins, etc. Show the young guys that we’ve got playing time for them and hope that they stick with us. It would show the recruits for next year that they’ve got a real shot to play coming in. What do we have to lose? At this point, playing young players regardless of a win or loss may be our best recruiting pitch.

I really hope it doesn’t mortgage our future in the process, but I believe Bobby finishes out the year. Jawon Pass will be the starter going forward through the rest of the season and we’ll all just have to ride it out. And don’t get me wrong because Pass hasn’t been totally awful. Who knows what could happen? I honestly hope I’m wrong about Petrino turning this around, because I wanna see our team succeed.

Regardless of who plays the rest of the year, who starts, and no matter the win-loss record, it’s clear the tide has turned. The ship has sailed, the old dog has had his day, however you want to put it. Bobby Petrino isn’t what Louisville Football needs anymore.

Give him credit for the fun we had in his first stint, and I guess we have to give him a little bit of credit with Lamar. But the Louisville football program at the moment is a bit, well, stagnant. Yeah, that’s a good word for it. The standard can’t be 8 wins a year when you are trying to close the gap between teams like Florida State and Clemson. That’s just facts.

The ACC is a different animal, and where that may cause some to give Petrino some leeway, I see it as his opportunity to really show how much of a “genius” even I at one point claimed him to be. Five years and a Heisman trophy winner later? There’s just not enough to show for it. There has been a culture shift in a negative direction, an attitude of complacency and just flat out not seeming to care. It’s my third time using this word but: unacceptable.

The only way I see Louisville football turning a corner is under new leadership. New attitude, better play calling, and please some frickin fire on the sidelines. At some point, the root cause of the issue starts staring you right in the face. When the guy in charge seems to be sleepwalking on the sideline, we have a problem.

The majority of this fan base I believe is unhappy with the state of the football program, and even more unhappy with the head coach. I know he still has his supporters, but you can only watch losing football for so long before you get tired of it. As I said, go look at the numbers before and since his return… You’ll find he hasn’t been what he was expected to be, and not just this year.

Bottom line is this: we didn’t bring Bobby back to lower our expectations for Louisville football. We surely didn’t bring him back just to win 8 games every year and to start 2-3 in year five. It could always be worse, but that’s the little brother attitude we shouldn’t have. We are Louisville – we have the talent, the resources, and the facilities to make BIG THINGS happen here!

Next. A look at the numbers vs. Georgia Tech. dark

In order for Louisville football to move forward and have future success, we need to act before too much more damage is done. Clean house now, rebuild, and start the resurgence of the program that I fully believe with the right leadership can rise to elite status in college football.

There, I’ve said my peace. Kentucky still sucks. Fire Bobby, and bring on….. Jeff Brohm?

No but seriously, please get Jeff Brohm.

Go Cards, Beat Georgia Tech. (please).