Bobby Petrino: Beyond Football
Arkansas fans know Coach Bobby Petrino has won 75 percent of his games as a head coach and has 27 years coaching experience, but one thing they may not know is that when he was growing up, he wasn’t just playing football – he speed-skated around Montana and into Canada.
Besides playing football for his dad, Bob Petrino Sr., he also coached under him at Carroll College. Petrino grew up in Helena, Montana, where he grew up watching his dad coach every day after school.
“It was great playing for and coaching under my dad – we won a lot of games and had fun,” Petrino said. “Ít was a great way to grow up, and he gives me a lot of great advice.”
Even though his hobbies have changed, family is still important to Petrino.
“I don’t speed skate because I don’t like the cold anymore,” Petrino said “Basically, I golf quite a bit when I can, and of course my daughters help me with that and then it becomes a family deal, and Becky golfs so that’s pretty cool and the boys used to golf until Katie started beating them.
“I either do that or go up to the lake, we go to the lake and water ski and Jet Ski, I can still water ski as old as I am and I still have fun with that.”
Coach Petrino has four kids – two boys and two girls. His oldest daughter, Kelsey, graduated from Louisville, while his oldest son, Nick, attends Louisville. His younger song, Bobby, goes to the UA and his youngest daughter, Katie, is on a golf scholarship at Louisville. He also has a four-month-old grandbaby.
Petrino’s wife, Becky, has supported him through 16 job changes in 26 years.
“My wife, Becky, loves football and is very supportive and is a big part of keeping everything together, especially with the moving and getting readjusted to everything,” Petrino said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better coach’s wife.”
The relationship Petrino has with his children carries over to the 85 scholarship athletes he’s responsible for each year.
“Family is a lot different we are a big family as a football team and one thing I try to do is keep an eye out for when something is bothering one of my players,” Petrino said. “Each guy on our team is motivated differently, they all have different buttons that you push to get them to do what you want them to do, then you rely a lot of your assistant coaches to help with how our team deals and stays together.”
Petrino coached in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007, prior to coming to Arkansas. The player-coach relationship in college football was a key reason Petrino said he chose to return to the collegiate ranks.
“College football is more about the education business and you’re coaching guys out there that have a dream that you’re helping them get to and all along your teaching them lessons that they’re going to use for the rest of the lives,” Petrino said. “The NFL is more just the entertainment business so it’s great to be back in the education business.”
Petrino went 3-10 at Atlanta and left the Falcons for Arkansas with three games remaining in their season, causing him to be showered with national scrutiny for his handling of the situation.
“That’s probably a lot harder for my wife to deal with then me because I can just brush it off and I always tell everyone don’t believe everything you read,” Petrino said. “Sometimes it’s hard on Becky and it gets to her and the kids. That’s probably the hardest thing for me is when things are said that aren’t true and things are said or written that takes a shot at our family.”
“My kids really take it to heart and you wish that it didn’t happen but its part of the profession.”
The Arkansas job was Petrino’s third head-coaching position in as many years, but he said he and his family are content for a longer stay in Fayetteville.
“In five years I hope to be here, a couple of championships under our belt and everything is going well,” Petrino said. “Were at a place where we are very happy as a family and I really love the state of Arkansas and the administration here and the direction that we are going with the program and with the players that we have brought in and that we win enough games that I’m still here.”
“And the fan support is just awesome, it’s such a unique place because all the passion and pride that the whole state has for the Razorbacks, is pretty awesome.”