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Bobby Petrino is back in Arkansas, but he’s the offensive coordinator now.

In an attempt to rescue the Razorbacks from their offensive crisis, Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman is bringing back the old, new.

Bobby Petrino is making a surprising comeback to Fayetteville, this time as the offensive coordinator for the Razorbacks. On Wednesday, the school formally announced the hire, following several media stories the previous day that Petrino would be joining the school.

During his tenure as Arkansas’s head coach from 2008 to 2011, Petrino recorded a 34-17 record and led the team to its best two-season run this century. In his final two seasons with the team, Arkansas won 10 games, including a Cotton Bowl victory over Kansas State.

However, on April 10, 2012, Petrino was let go by Arkansas following an odd sequence of events.

He was a passenger in a motorbike crash in northwest Arkansas on April 1. At first, he claimed to be riding the motorcycle alone, but it was later revealed that Jessica Dorrell, who was 25 at the time, was riding with him.

Eventually, it came to light that Petrino had an affair with Dorrell and had given her a $20,000 gift before hiring her to work in the athletics department. He had not previously told university authorities about his relationship.

Because Petrino “engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior” both before and after the motorcycle collision, Arkansas fired Petrino with cause, according to then-athletics director Jeff Long, who told reporters.

Petrino has since held the position of head coach at Missouri State, Louisville, and Western Kentucky. He has a 137-71 lifetime record as a head coach. In 2022, Petrino came close to leading Missouri State to victory over Arkansas.

Following the 2022 season, Petrino departed the head coaching ranks to take a position at Texas A&M as Jimbo Fisher’s offensive coordinator. In 2023, the Aggies were 26th in scoring (34.2 ppg) and 54th in total offense. Mike Elko was hired by Texas A&M from Duke, and Mike Elko was fired by Fisher earlier this month.

Bobby's back: Agent's text message started events for Petrino's return | The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - Arkansas' Best News Source

This fit looks odd, yet it also makes sense at first glance. Pittman has expressed his desire for coaches with connections to Arkansas and an offensive coordinator. It is evident that Petrino possesses it, plus he has personal experience with striking it rich in Fayetteville.

However, the Razorbacks will have three different offensive coordinators in three years, and Petrino’s offenses are more like to Dan Enos’ than Kendall Briles’. In his farewell press conference, Pittman stated that Texas A&M was only ranked 89th in the nation with 141.4 yards per game, and that Arkansas needed a coordinator with experience running the football.

Proud to be coming home': Petrino returning to Arkansas as OC | The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - Arkansas' Best News Source

But this action will undoubtedly invigorate a fan base that has grown weary of Pittman, and in particular of athletic director Hunter Yurachek’s choice to keep the head coach in jeopardy.

It was coincidental, or perhaps well orchestrated, that Arkansas unveiled its own NIL collective Tuesday morning. Through it, supporters can make direct financial contributions to the initiative.

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