BOWLING GREEN, Ky . — Now that Bobby Petrino is back in the coaching ranks, he wants to make the most of his second chance.
Petrino was introduced Monday as Western Kentucky’s new football coach. The 51-year-old was fired by Arkansas in April for a “pattern of misleading” behavior following an accident in which the coach was injured while riding a motorcycle with his mistress as a passenger.
“At this point in my career, it’s about getting back and coaching players,” Petrino said. “It just happened to open up at a place we love. I hope it can be as long as possible.”
Petrino had a 34-17 record at Arkansas before he was dismissed in the wake of the scandal. Petrino had an affair with former Razorback volleyball player Jessica Dorrell, whom he later hired as an assistant and gave $20,000 in gifts. Petrino said initially he was the only person on the motorcycle but later admitted to Dorrell’s presence.
“I’m going to be able to sit down with mom and dad and the student-athlete and make them understand how this experience has made me a better coach, a better person and will make me understand their son better,” Petrino said during a packed news conference at Houchens-Smith Stadium. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity I’ll be able to give student athletes when they make a mistake.”
Petrino replaces Willie Taggart, who left last week to become South Florida’s coach. Western Kentucky gave Petrino a four-year deal with a base annual salary of $850,000. If he terminates the deal at any time, he must repay the university $1.2 million in six monthly payments starting the month after he leaves.
Athletic director Todd Stewart knows he will get criticized for hiring Petrino. He and Petrino had a long discussion over the weekend about the coach’s past. Stewart said Petrino was candid about his conduct and took responsibility for his actions. He said Petrino’s contrition convinced him to give the coach a shot.
“What it comes down is that he made a big mistake, and he acknowledges that and he’s taken ownership of that,” Stewart said. “And he’s paid a heavy price for it. But this is the United States of America, and we’re a country of second chances.”
SOURCES: LATTIMORE GOING PRO: Injured South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore will enter the NFL draft, people familiar with the decision said.
One person said Lattimore is expected to announce his decision this week. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because there has not been an official statement.
The running back suffered a horrific injury to his right knee against Tennessee on Oct. 27. Doctors said Lattimore had successful surgery to repair several ligaments Nov. 2. It is unclear when he’ll be able to return to the field.
Lattimore injured his left knee in 2011 as a sophomore. He rushed for 662 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, both team highs. He is South Carolina’s career leader in touchdowns (41) and rushing TDs (38).
GOLDEN EAGLES REPORTEDLY FIND COACH: The Hattiesburg (Miss.) American and The Oklahoman reported that Southern Miss plans to introduce Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken as its new coach Tuesday.
Monken, a former LSU assistant, would replace Ellis Johnson, who was fired after his first season. The Golden Eagles finished 0-12 for the school’s first winless year since 1925. Larry Fedora, Johnson’s predecessor who left for North Carolina, also came to Southern Miss via Oklahoma State.
BUFFALOES HIRE SAN JOSE STATE COACH: Mike MacIntyre is leaving San Jose State for Colorado.
The school announced Monday that MacIntyre signed a five-year, $10 million deal. His hiring ended a two-week search that included a rejection by its first choice, Cincinnati’s Butch Jones.
MacIntyre inherits a program that has had seven straight losing seasons, including a 1-11 record this year under Jon Embree that was the worst in the program’s 123-year history.
Around the nation
Southeastern Louisiana defensive back Robert Alford was named to The Sports Network’s FCS All-America second team. ... UTEP hired Sean Kugler as its new coach, bringing in a former Miners player and coach to replace the retired Mike Price. ... Texas Tech said offensive line coach Chris Thomsen will serve as interim coach for the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 28 against Minnesota. ... All-Big Ten defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins will give up his senior season at Ohio State to make himself available for the 2013 NFL draft.