FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas' patience was rewarded by a coach who wanted out of the NFL after less than a season.
Bobby Petrino was introduced as the Razorbacks' new coach Tuesday night, hours after he abruptly resigned from the Atlanta Falcons -- as first reported by Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com. The move gave Arkansas a big-name catch to replace Houston Nutt, who left the Hogs two weeks ago and was hired by Mississippi.
"I knew I wanted to come back and coach in college football," Petrino said. "I'm very excited to get back and work with the student-athlete."
In January, Petrino left as head coach at Louisville to take over in Atlanta, agreeing to a five-year, $24 million contract handed out by a team that felt he could help Michael Vick reach his full potential.
However, the star quarterback came under investigation for a grisly dogfighting operation that led him to plead guilty to federal charges.
Vick was sentenced Monday to 23 months in prison without ever taking a snap for Petrino. That night, the Falcons lost to New Orleans 34-14, and hours later Petrino left the team with a 3-10 record to return to the college ranks.
Petrino got a five-year deal worth $2.85 million per year to take over the Razorbacks, according to an athletic department spokesman.
"One of the most attractive things about coming to the University of Arkansas is the fan base," Petrino said. "It basically ranges all the way from Fayetteville to Little Rock to West Memphis, and I'm excited about that -- to be the main show -- there's no question."
|Bobby Petrino is introduced as the Hogs' 30th coach. (AP)|
With Petrino, Arkansas might get the last laugh. He went 41-9 in four high-scoring years at Louisville before leaving to join the Falcons.
"First of all, offensively, we want to be very aggressive," the 46-year-old Petrino told a cheering crowd when he was introduced. "What I like to do first is establish the fact that everybody expects to score every single time we take the field on offense. That is the expectation."
Arkansas was clearly eager to announce Petrino's hiring. Instead of waiting until Wednesday morning, the university held a news conference that started around 10:30 p.m. local time Tuesday. A couple hours before that, some fans braved foggy, rainy weather to stand outside at Fayetteville's small airport, hoping to catch a glimpse of Petrino on his way in.
Jeff Long, Arkansas' incoming athletic director, handled the search for a new coach. Long takes over for Frank Broyles, who is retiring at the end of the year. Long said he wasn't deterred as the search appeared to drag on and many wondered if the Razorbacks needed to lower their standards.