NCAA Football

Missouri State hires Petrino as football coach

(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(Stats Perform) - Missouri State's struggling football program has mostly failed to grab attention in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, but that should change with the hiring of Bobby Petrino as the team's next head coach.

A controversial figure, Petrino will be introduced at a campus news conference Thursday morning. He will become the 21st head coach at Missouri State, which parted way with Dave Steckel after five seasons last week.

Petrino, 58, is best known for his firing at Arkansas in 2012 after four seasons. He was injured in a motorcycle accident that involved his 25-year-old mistress, a former Razorbacks Foundation employee whom Petrino had hired four days earlier, claiming at first he was alone. He later apologized publicly for the events surrounding his personal life.

Petrino has a 119-56 career record, including two stints at Louisville, most recently from 2014-18. He guided Western Kentucky in 2013.

Petrino also was the Atlanta Falcons' coach in 2007, but was widely criticized when he left the team, which was 3-10, in the final month of the season to take over at Arkansas.

It's been quite the winding road for Petrino, who was one of football's more coveted coaches after he posted a 41-9 record and an 2006 Orange Bowl win in his first stint at Louisville from 2003-06. He coached Lamar Jackson in his Heisman Trophy-winning season with the Cardinals in 2016 and was fired during the 2018 season when the team was 2-8.

Petrino was out of coaching last year. He takes over a Missouri State program that was 1-10 and tied for last place in the MVFC last season. The Bears haven't had a winning record since 2009 or qualified for the FCS playoffs since 1990.

The MVFC is generally regarded as the strongest conference in the FCS, led by North Dakota State, the national champion in eight of the last nine seasons.

There's already a Petrino in the FCS ranks. Paul Petrino, Bobby's younger brother, is Idaho's coach in the Big Sky Conference.

Updated January 15, 2020