In just one crazy week, Missouri State has changed the outlook of its entire football program.
And those behind the hiring are taking a major risk to do so.
Missouri State announced Wednesday that it will hire Bobby Petrino as its next head football coach in a move that has caught national headlines.
Remember, it was just one week ago as of Wednesday when we thought Missouri State was going to go into another season with Dave Steckel on the sidelines.
Bobby Petrino: Missouri State’s next head football coach
If that were the case, the Bears would be sticking with a coach coming off a 1-10 season and a coach who has one of the worst winning percentages in the history of the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Fast forward to now, and the hope and excitement for Missouri State football are reaching levels of excitement it hasn’t had before.
Petrino is known as a great offensive mind. Sure, he’s had his faults on the coaching side of things — especially in his final year at Louisville — but what he will bring in will be an incredible upgrade over the elementary offense the Bears have been running over the last five years.
Imagine the new level of recruiting that Petrino is going to bring in. A name like his should have a ton of success at the FCS level and, if he stays long enough, he could be the one to lead the Bears to the postseason for the first time since 1990.
Missouri State’s new football coach:5 things to know about Bobby Petrino
On the football side, Petrino is an incredible name and hire for what has been a dreadful Missouri State football program.
The risk from MSU Athletics Director Kyle Moats and MSU President Clif Smart comes from how his tenure at Arkansas ended to go along with his tendency to leave programs in the dark.
Petrino’s time at Arkansas ended in scandal while in the offseason of 2012, he was fired after a motorcycle accident during which it was later discovered Petrino was riding with his mistress. That led to revelations that Petrino had hired the woman to a position in the athletic department and that he had given her $20,000 to buy a new car.
It was discovered he was misleading officials about his extramarital affair with the athletic department employee.
We remember the photos: Here’s what Bobby Petrino’s Arkansas scandal was all about
Petrino has since apologized for his actions.
“I wanted to be able to come here and apologize to everybody, the fans, the players, and truly tell you how sorry I am for the way it ended,” Petrino told a crowd in Little Rock in September. “But I also wanted to come here and thank you for everything the people in this room and this state did for me and my family. You were great to us.”
Moats worked with Petrino at Louisville, while Smart is a graduate from the University of Arkansas School of Law. With this move, the two are obviously believers of second chances. If there is a slip up, the two will receive some of the blame.
Petrino has also received criticism from over his career about his tendency to leave football programs high and dry. Most of that came from how he left the Atlanta Falcons after 13 games.
Is Petrino going to abandon Missouri State after the first Power 5 contract he’s offered? Time will tell.
The story continues below.
This is a risk and this is controversial but for what Missouri State’s football program has been in recent years, something like this might be worth it. What else is there to lose?
No matter how you feel about the person, the name “Bobby Petrino” immediately changes the thought you had about Missouri State football heading into 2020.
In the end, at least it’s not Art Briles.
Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at email@example.com or join the conversation on Twitter where his handle is @WyattWheeler_NL. You can also sign up for his free “Bears Beat” newsletter by subscribing on News-Leader.com.