Louisville fires coach Bobby Petrino after Cardinals' disastrous 2-8 start to 2018 season

Louisville football fell off a cliff this season, and coach Bobby Petrino is paying the price. Petrino has been fired in the middle of his fifth season in his second stint with the Cardinals after a 54-23 loss to No. 13 Syracuse on Friday night, the program announced Sunday.

Louisville is 2-8 this season with its only wins coming against FCS Indiana State and Western Kentucky. It has been outscored 291-125 over its five games, giving up 54 points or more in four of those games as the Cardinals have fallen to 0-7 in ACC play.

"We want to thank Bobby for guiding our football program to some of the better seasons we have had historically at UofL during his two separate tenures here," athletic director Vince Tyra said in a release. "However, at this time we feel the program needs different leadership and we owe it to our student-athletes and fans to get this turned around. I did not have the confidence that it was going to happen next season without a change and it needs to start happening now. We expect to determine a new head coach soon to restore our football program to national prominence."

Tyra inherited Petrino, the last remaining figurehead from the previous regime at Louisville. Former athletic director Tom Jurich and former basketball coach Rick Pitino were both ousted amid scandal, but Petrino -- who is no stranger to scandal -- saw his tenure end because of the performance on the field. 

A press conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Louisville to discuss the decision and outline the plan moving forward for the program. 

The Cardinals have been an absolute mess offensively since the departure of Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, but the struggles this season have extended throughout the entire team. There have been hits on the recruiting trail and reports of unrest among the current roster, including players using social media to voice their displeasure about the state of the team. 

Petrino, who will not coach the final two games of the campaign, posted a 77-35 record across two tenures as Louisville's coach, including a 45-24 record in ACC play, a share of the ACC Atlantic Division title (2016) and two top-25 finishes (2014, 2016). Petrino went 41-9 in his first stint with Louisville from 2003-06, winning one Conference USA and one Big East title.

The next step for Tyra and the Louisville athletic department will be to replicate the process from the basketball search, which successfully hired Chris Mack away from Xavier to rebrand the program. The Cardinals have the financial complications of Petrino's buyout, which Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde "estimated to be in the $14 million range." 

Tyra has promised a national search that is sure to include many candidates, but the fan base already has its top pick selected: Purdue coach Jeff Brohm, a Louisville native and former Cardinals quarterback. Brohm, 5-5 this year with a win against Ohio State after leading Purdue to 7-6 in Year 1, is sure to be a coach in high demand on the national level, and the Boilermakers should not be expected to let the promising coach leave easily. 

With Jurich, Pitino and "Papa" John Schnatter all gone, replacing Petrino was the final step of leaving the past behind for Louisville's athletic department. The tone around the program at the beginning of the year did not suggest that anyone expected Petrino's fall to be so soon or steep, but with the program decidedly heading in the wrong direction the school had no choice but accelerate that plan to move forward before its too late. 

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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