Under former coach Charlie Strong, the Louisville football team's "core values" were out in the open for everyone to see. On wallpaper outside the Cardinals' team meeting room, Strong listed the five things he most expected from his players:
2. Treat women with respect
3. No drugs
4. No stealing
5. No guns
Anyone have an eraser?
I'm not surprised Bobby Petrino is returning to big-time college football. After the scandalous end to his four-year tenure at Arkansas in April 2012, in which he was fired after wrecking his motorcycle with his mistress on the back and then lying to his boss about it, you knew it was only a matter of time before he was hired by a desperate football program.
Petrino has an 83-30 record as a college coach and knows X's and O's as well as anyone. Petrino might be morally bankrupt, but he wins games and sells tickets, which seem to be the only things that really matter in major college athletics anymore.
But I never thought it would be Louisville that hired him. Petrino, 52, will be named the Cardinals' coach for a second time on Thursday, replacing Strong, who left last week for Texas.
Sure, Louisville is heading to the ACC next season and might be trying to salvage the momentum Strong built, but the Cardinals aren't desperate. In fact, they're coming off two of their best seasons in school history. Strong guided them to a 23-3 record during the past two seasons, including a 33-23 victory over Florida in the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl. Throw in Louisville's NCAA championship in men's basketball last season and it has been the golden age of Cardinals athletics.
Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich is one of the best in the business, helping the Cardinals build an athletics program that is the envy of schools with far more resources and tradition. That's why it's so surprising that Jurich didn't learn from the past -- or at least ignored his conscience.
Petrino has already burned the Cardinals before, leaving for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons only a few months after he signed a lucrative 10-year contract to stay at Louisville. Given what Strong built, Jurich might have had his choice of up-and-coming coaching candidates. He reportedly interviewed Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris and Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason, among others, before somehow settling on Petrino.
Any of the other candidates would have come with far less baggage -- and a lot less road rash -- than Petrino.
But Petrino won big at Louisville the first time, going 41-9 from 2003 to 2006, and Jurich must be convinced he'll do it again. Hopefully, Petrino's second tenure will come without the lying and deception that made him one of the sport's most despised and mistrusted coaches.
During his first stop at Louisville, Petrino notoriously shopped for other jobs, infamously interviewing with Auburn officials at a small Indiana airport in 2003 even though he was still coaching the Cardinals and his former boss, Tommy Tuberville, was still employed at Auburn. Initially, Petrino denied published reports about the clandestine interview, but then admitted it and apologized for going behind Jurich's back.