Assessing Petrino, Beilema

By: BOB HOLT ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Published: Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs looks toward the scoreboard during the fourth quarter against Texas Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008, at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin.
Photo by Jason Ivester
Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs looks toward the scoreboard during the fourth quarter against Texas Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008, at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin.

— Jonathan Luigs expects Bobby Petrino to win big on the field as Western Kentucky’s coach.

Luigs, a former Arkansas All-America center, played his final season with the Razorbacks in 2008, which was Petrino’s first season as their coach.

“I think as far as coaching goes, he’s probably one of the best play-callers in thecountry if not the best,” Luigs said. “He’s so good at finding the defense’s weaknesses and knowing how to scheme against them.

“Wherever he’s been, he’s been successful, so I don’t see why he wouldn’t be successful at Western Kentucky.”

Petrino has a combined 75-26 record in eight seasons as a college head coach at Louisville and Arkansas, but he was fired in April by Razorbacks Athletic Director Jeff Long after being involved in a motorcycle accident and lying about Jessica Dorrell, a female employee he was having an affair with, being on the motorcycle with him.

The circumstances that resulted in Petrino’s firing kept him from landing oneof several openings at major conference schools.

“I think it’s a good thing for him to have a chance to get back on his feet and prove himself,” Luigs said of Petrino’s hiring at Western Kentucky. “Show his personal character off the field and build back his reputation.”

Luigs said he believes Petrino’s firing at Arkansas should serve as “a wake-up call” after he led the Razorbacks to 10-3 and 11-2 records in his final two seasons.

“To know the contract he had, the kind of pull he had in the state, and what he did still backfired on him here,” Luigs said. “He had the whole state behind him and got kicked to the curb, so that probably put it in perspective for him that he’s not bigger than a football program or a university.”

Luigs said he’s excited about Bret Bielema’s hiring as Arkansas’ coach after Bielema led Wisconsin to a 68-27 record in seven seasons, including Big Ten Conference championships the past three seasons. Luigs played for the Razorbacks in 2006, when Arkansas ended its season with a 17-14 loss to Bielema’s first Wisconsin team in the Capital One Bowl.

“When I first heard that he’d been hired here, I was kind of shocked just like everybody else, because I don’t think that’s who was on the media’s radar, or anybody’s radar for that matter,” Luigs said. “But I think it’s a great hire. He plays the type of football that wins championships.

“We haven’t had a defensive-minded coach in a while, either. I think what it takes to win in the SEC is a good, balanced, ball-control offense with a good defense, and that’s what he’ll bring.”

Sports, Pages 13 on 12/26/2012

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