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Bobby Petrino bolts UNLV for Texas A&M after 21 days with Rebels

Updated January 4, 2023 - 1:56 pm

Bobby Petrino, hired as UNLV’s offensive coordinator Dec. 15, is leaving to take the same job at Texas A&M under coach Jimbo Fisher.

“Today, we accepted the resignation of Coach Petrino and wish him well in his future endeavors,” UNLV coach Barry Odom said.

Petrino will become the offensive coordinator and call plays for the Aggies.

In the news release announcing Petrino’s hiring 21 days ago, Petrino said, “Barry Odom is a talented coach who has always been highly respected, and I really look forward to working with him at UNLV.”

Petrino’s short stay with the Rebels follows a pattern from earlier in his career. During his first stint as coach of Louisville, he signed a 10-year extension after leading the Cardinals to a 12-1 record in his fourth season. Less than six months later, he left to become the coach of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

His time with the Falcons ended in a similar fashion. Petrino signed a five-year, $24 million contract with Atlanta before the 2007 season, but abruptly resigned after a 3-10 start to his first season.

Petrino didn’t tell the Falcons players he was leaving face to face, informing them of his decision in a note he left in the locker room. That ended one of the shortest noninterim coaching stints in NFL history since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.

Petrino jumped back to college football with Arkansas, where he was fired in April 2012 after school officials said he lied about a motorcycle accident while riding with a female football staffer that Petrino had hired and with whom he was having an affair.

He also left Western Kentucky after one season as coach to return to Louisville in 2014.

Petrino spent the previous three seasons as Missouri State’s coach and guided the Bears to Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearances in two of his three seasons. At the time of Petrino’s arrival, Missouri State had gone 30 years without a playoff appearance.

After joining UNLV, Petrino, who was also going to coach quarterbacks, was to be paid $300,000 as a base salary. He was also given access to a vehicle, a faculty initial expense of $10,000 and was to receive one month’s salary as a bonus for helping the Rebels reach a bowl game.

According to The Athletic, former Texas A&M offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey, who had filled the job Petrino is inheriting, was expected to make $850,000 during the 2023 season.

Petrino’s departure shocked the Rebels’ program. People close to the team said Petrino had been actively recruiting on behalf of UNLV as recently as Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be part of the new direction of the Rebels and compete for championships,” Petrino said in the release after his hiring.

Petrino’s 21-day tenure with UNLV will conjure memories of basketball coach Chris Beard’s 19-day stint with the Rebels in 2016. Beard bolted for Texas Tech, where he led the Red Raiders to the 2019 national championship game, before heading to Texas in 2021. Beard is suspended without pay after he was arrested Dec. 12 and charged with assault of a family member.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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