SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State University officially introduced Bobby Petrino as its new head football coach in a news conference at JQH Arena on the Springfield campus last week.
Petrino has previously served as head coach in two stints at Louisville as well as Arkansas and Western Kentucky. He has compiled a 119-56 record in 14 seasons at the NCAA Division I FBS level and led his programs to 11 bowl appearances with seven teams ranked in the top 25 at season’s end.
His employment agreement with Missouri State is a five-year contract with a base salary of $250,000 per year, in addition to a number of performance and incentive bonuses.
“I’m excited for this opportunity and the chance to rejuvenate the fan base at Missouri State,” said Petrino. “They are hungry for winning football, and we’ll do everything in our power to give that to them. With the support of the administration and the community, there is so much potential here.”
Petrino was introduced as Missouri State’s 21st head football coach by university President Clif Smart and Director of Athletics Kyle Moats.
The Helena, Mont., native will begin his 32nd year of collegiate coaching. He has guided his programs to top-six final rankings in the Associated Press poll three times (2004, 2006, 2011), directing some of the nation’s top offensive programs along the way.
His clubs have finished in the top five nationally in scoring offense three times, while his 2004 club at Louisville led the country in scoring at 49.8 points per game. He has developed 34 NFL Draft selections during his illustrious career, including four in the first round, and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
His first stint at Louisville (2003-06) boasted 41 wins over a four-year span in the first head coaching assignment of his career with four bowl appearances in four seasons. Petrino directed the Cardinals to their first BIG EAST title in 2006, Louisville’s second year in the league.
Petrino’s 2004 campaign was one of the best in school history, leading the Cardinals to an 11-1 record that culminated in a Conference USA title and a 44-40 Liberty Bowl win over 10th-ranked Boise State. The Cardinals led the nation in total offense (539.0) and scoring offense (49.8), scored 50 or more points seven times and set an NCAA record by scoring 55 or more points in five straight games.
He stepped away from college football in 2007 to coach the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons for a season, then returned to guide the Arkansas Razorbacks for four years, from 2008-11. In Fayetteville, Petrino’s squads were 34-17 in his time there — including a 29-10 ledger over his last three campaigns — with three bowl appearances and an impressive 11-2 record and No. 5 final ranking in 2011.
Petrino spent the 2013 season as head coach at Western Kentucky, where he helped WKU finish 8-4 while closing the season with a four-game winning streak. The Hilltoppers also set a new school record for total offense (5,502 yards) and passing first downs (141) in a season.
His return to Louisville in 2014 was immediately successful, guiding the Cardinals to a 9-4 year out of the gates before reeling off four consecutive bowl appearances and another 9-4 campaign in 2016. In his nine total seasons in Louisville, Petrino’s Cardinals were 77-35 overall and 45-24 in conference games (CUSA, Big East and ACC).
Petrino literally grew up in the coaching profession. His father, Bob Petrino, Sr., coached at Carroll College in Helena, Mont., for 26 seasons, earning 163 victories and 15 conference titles. Petrino officially started his coaching career as a graduate assistant for his father at Carroll College in 1983.
After a graduate assistant stint as quarterbacks coach at Weber State in 1984, Petrino returned to be the offensive coordinator for his father in 1985-86 at Carroll. They had the top-ranked offense in the NAIA ranks in both of his seasons, thanks in large part to the play of Bobby Petrino’s younger brother, Paul, who was a four-year starter at quarterback.
He returned to Weber State as the wide receivers and tight ends coach (1987-88), then served three seasons at Idaho (1989-91), including two years at offensive coordinator. The 1990 Idaho squad defeated Missouri State in the first round of the NCAA FCS playoffs at Plaster Stadium, 41-35.
From there, he took assignments at Arizona State (1992-93), Nevada (1994) and Utah State (1995-97), before drawing the offensive coordinator position at Louisville in 1998. He guided future NFL star Jake Plummer at Arizona State and engineered the nation’s No. 2 passing offense (330) and total offense (500.1) at Nevada for a 9-2 squad that won a share of the Big West title. Petrino also helped Utah State set school records in total offense (468.5) and passing yards (317.5) during the 1996 season. Likewise, the 1998 Louisville team was the top-ranked NCAA FBS squad in scoring and total offense.
Petrino stepped away from the college game from 1999-2001 for three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, including the offensive coordinator role in 2001.
He played college football for his father at Carroll College, twice earning NAIA All-America honors and leading the Fighting Saints to three straight Frontier Conference championships. He was named the league MVP in 1981 and 1982. He also played four years of basketball at Carroll while earning a bachelor’s degree in physical education with a minor in mathematics in 1983.
Petrino and his wife Becky have four children: Kelsey, Nick, Bobby and Katie — and six grandchildren.