I was driving home from work last night, listening to the Bobby Petrino press conference. I was a little surprised to see that he had taken the Arkansas position, but it wasn't a total shocker. The total shocker was listening to callers and e-mailers blasting Petrino for leaving Atlanta so suddenly, not even completing a year.
I am here to support you, Bobby Petrino.
First of all, the NFL coaching position is flat out grueling. NFL coaches have more games to plan for, they talk to the media more, and the level of their opponents is much higher, which means they have to spend more time on a game plan for their opponents. Sure, the SEC is the best conference in college football, but you still get to play Mississippi. There are no "Mississippis" in the NFL. Not even the Dolphins.
The move only makes more sense when you look at the Falcons situation. They are going to be one of the worst teams in the NFL by the end of the season. They are going to be drafting a quarterback in the first round next year, which has a 50% success rate. Even after drafting that quarterback, they will be benching him for a season, which means next year may not be any better than this season. That would be two losing seasons. In the NFL if you don't win in three years you are toast. That means that Petrino's NFL career would have ridden on Brian Brohm being highly successful in his first year as a starter.
The quarterback position is far from the solution in Atlanta. They got 300 yards and 2 touchdowns from Chris Redman this past week and lost by almost 20 points. Even if you throw a good quarterback in there you still need a lot of upgrades, which makes the uphill battle look like an attempt to walk up the side of a skyscraper.
Finally, there is the control factor. Head coaches in the NFL aren't always in charge, especially not young head coaches. In college football, the head coach runs everything. Petrino stressed that he wanted to draft a quarterback in Atlanta, and sit him for a whole season, regardless of how they do next season. We have seen many times that teams can rarely commit to sit a quarterback a whole season. Petrino wouldn't have total control of the decisions being made with the Falcons, yet his job would ride on the outcome of the decisions. At Arkansas he makes all of the decisions, and can write his own fate. He is also a big name college coach, so he will have some leeway, at least tons more than he would get in the NFL.
Like I said, I support you Bobby Petrino. You made a move that anyone would make. You left a grueling job with no long term security for an attractive position with more security and a much easier lifestyle. Anyone who says they would do things differently is either lying, or an idiot.
Now, on with this week's picks.