"I would never have a great relationship with Bobby if he wasn't a changed person because I don't live my life that way," Jurich said. "I want to be around people who are good human beings and have their priorities straight. And I know he's got his priorities straight now. That's the scary thing about it. He's taking all these shots from people trying to pile on, and pretty soon they're going to have to play him."
Jurich and Petrino first met in the late 1980s when both were working at schools out west. It was not until Jurich hired John L. Smith to coach Louisville in 1998 that he and Petrino began working together. Petrino came on board as offensive coordinator to help turn around a program Jurich says was hemorrhaging.
Louisville lost its first two games that season. Jurich thought the Cardinals would go winless. Smith told him they would win. Jurich just figured Smith was being confident because he had to be, but then the Cardinals thrashed Boston College 52-28 with more than 400 yards by halftime. Jurich stood in the corner of the end zone with Louisville alum Tom Jackson and stared in amazement at the offensive explosion.
He knew whom he would hire the next time he needed a head coach.
When Smith left for Michigan State following the 2002 season, Jurich hired Petrino.
The old Petrino.
In four years, Petrino took Louisville to new heights, including a BCS berth in the 2007 Orange Bowl. But Petrino never seemed satisfied with what he had. During his first tenure, he had interviews with Auburn, LSU and the Oakland Raiders. Jurich says Petrino never pursued those opportunities; those programs came after his coach. He recalled seeing a signed contract from Raiders owner Al Davis for five years, $25 million.
Petrino turned it down. But he could not turn down the Atlanta Falcons after the 2006 season. Jurich, believing he had a coach for life, was upset and disappointed. The two spoke only a handful of times between then and 2012, when Petrino looked to Jurich for a lifeline.
He had just been fired at Arkansas after a motorcycle accident revealed not only that Petrino had been carrying on an affair but also that he had hired his mistress to work for him in the football office. Athletic director Jeff Long accused Petrino of deliberately misleading him about his extramarital relationship and why he played favorites in hiring her.
"It's well-documented what type of person he was back then," Jurich said. "He was focused on one thing and one thing only. That's why I'm so impressed with him now -- the person he has become through all of this."
Following their meeting in 2012, Jurich and Petrino stayed in close contact. When Petrino was hired at Western Kentucky for the 2013 season, the two grew closer. Petrino would call with good-luck wishes before big games and constantly sang the praises of Strong and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
When Strong left for Texas, the new Petrino was open and honest with Western Kentucky athletic director Todd Stewart and called to say he was interested in pursuing the Louisville job.
"He said, 'Yeah I knew that,'" Petrino said recently at the ACC Kickoff. "When we decided as a family to go to Western Kentucky, one of the reasons we went there was to get back closer to Louisville. That's where I consider home to be."