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UNLV adds big-name offensive coordinator to staff

Updated December 15, 2022 - 8:04 pm

Former Louisville and Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino will become UNLV’s new offensive coordinator, the school announced Thursday.

He joins new Rebels coach Barry Odom, who was hired Dec. 6 to replace Marcus Arroyo following a 5-7 finish to the 2022 season.

“I believe coach Petrino is one of the greatest offensive minds in all of football,” Odom said in a release Thursday. “I know he will be a tremendous leader, mentor and teacher for our student-athletes.”

Petrino, who spent the past three seasons coaching FCS school Missouri State, is known for his second stint with Louisville, where he coached Heisman Trophy winner and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

He’s also known for the incident that led to his firing as the coach at Arkansas in April 2012. School officials said Petrino lied about a motorcycle accident he’d been involved in near the town of Crosses, Arkansas. He’d been riding with a woman who’d been hired as a football staffer.

Petrino was also having an affair with the woman and failed to disclose their relationship when she was added to the staff.

This will be Petrino’s first assistant job since 2002, when he was the offensive coordinator at Auburn. Across 14 seasons as a coach at the FBS level, the 61-year-old has a record of 175-119. He won at least 10 games four times and finished with losing records just twice.

“I’m excited to be part of the new direction of the Rebels and compete for championships,” Petrino said in a statement. “We had a great three years at Missouri State, but I thought this was the time in my career to step away from the head role and get back into a coordinator position to focus on moving the ball and scoring points and helping win games in Las Vegas.”

Petrino landed his first coaching job at Louisville in 2003 and guided the Cardinals to four consecutive bowl games while overseeing the team’s transition from Conference USA to the Big East.

Ahead of the 2006 season, Petrino signed a 10-year contract extension before leading Louisville to a 24-13 win against Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl to cap off a 12-1 record and a top-10 finish.

A year later, he took over as coach of the Atlanta Falcons during the 2007 season, but then left that job after a 3-10 start to become the coach at Arkansas.

Petrino’s time with the Razorbacks was successful. He led the team to two 10-win seasons and a Cotton Bowl win following the 2011 season But his tenure in Fayetteville came to a close shortly after.

Petrino returned to coaching in 2013 at Western Kentucky before going back to Louisville — this time in the ACC — in 2014. He won at least eight games in each of his first four seasons and helped Jackson become the first Heisman Trophy winner in program history during the 2016 season.

Petrino’s Cardinals went 2-8 to start the 2018 season, including an 0-7 run in the conference, and he was fired with two games remaining. At Missouri State, Petrino led the team to two FCS playoff appearances in three seasons.

“I’m thrilled to bring his experience to UNLV,” Odom said. “His creativity on offense will compliment our program in every way.”

The Review-Journal’s Sam Gordon contributed to this report.

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

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