Terence Moore tried to warn us...
On the one hand, I can't really blame Bobby Petrino for leaving. He stepped into a situation that was probably appealing to him because he was going to get the chance to coach a really unique quarterback. Unfortunately, that quarterback has a pressing engagement in the federal penal system and his absence has revealed a roster that wasn't very good in August and is dreadful now after injuries have devastated the team. Petrino probably realized at some point during the year that Rich McKay hadn't exactly stocked the team with talent. Worse yet, McKay had stocked the team with players who developed a culture where this was considered to be a good idea:
It's one thing to have mediocre players on your team. It's quite another to have mediocre players who were drafted to appease your dogfighting entrepreneur quarterback.
Then again, when Alge Crumpler is complaining about the coach, you know you have a problem. Steve Wyche's interview on 790 the Zone this morning was telling. He made references to champagne bottles being popped at Flowery Branch, Petrino completely ignoring his own players, and Petrino being a real jerk to Falcons employees. If half of what Wyche says is true, then Petrino leaving is a good thing because it averts a player mutiny or a mass exodus in the off season. Petrino left after an extremely brief meeting with his coaches and without saying word one to his players, which is not a high charatcer move.
The fact that's hard for me to square is the fact that Petrino was an outstanding college football coach. Peter King and others in the NFL media are trying to establish the meme that Petrino was a dictatorial coach whose style works with college kids, but not professionals. Huh? Bill Parcells? Bill Belichick? Dictatorial coaches don't work in the NFL? If anything, it's more important for a college coach to be a communicator because college coaches have to motivate 19-year olds whose attention waxes and wanes. Pete Carroll is a good college coach because his enthusiasm and ability to relate to players works in recruiting and motivation. Professionals can be expected to get excited for just about every game because they're playing for their livelihoods, so the rah-rah stuff doesn't work on them. Petrino should have been a good NFL coach because his strength is his offensive system and technocrats with limited people skills should do fine in a league where match-ups and x's and o's are so critical. In the end, Petrino and the Falcons was a bad match on both ends: an autocratic coach who didn't respond to failure well, combined with a roster with more than its share of headcases that chafed under authority after the previous coach had desperately tried to be their friend.
Assuming that Petrino can be as good a coach at Arkansas as he was at Louisville, then Seccu just became an even more bloodthirsty place. The SEC now has half of the ten best coaches in the country and maybe eight of the top 20. It's going to be an absolute bloodbath for the next several years, and an unstable bloodbath at that because there's no way that the high profile coaches in the league are going to be able to meet their fans' expectations. The contrast between the SEC and Big Ten could not be any starker. The SEC's seventh best program just nabbed one of the best coaches available who has no connection with the program. The Big Ten's best (or second-best if you're from Ohio) program is too cheap and dysfunctional to hire an obviously qualified alum who wanted the job. You get what you pay for.