Petrino owes second chance to AD

Jurich was on vacation in Colorado when Strong decided to leave, which caught Jurich completely off guard. He made up a list of seven potential candidates. Petrino was on the list but not at the top.

"What I had to do is really pare it down, and the school trusts me, so that's even more pressure because I want to make sure I got everything right," Jurich said. "I love this place. There's never a time I'm ever going to put this place in harm's way. I needed somebody that was going to put their heart and soul into this program and take it to a different level because we're going to a different level, and there was no doubt in my mind that Bobby would be that man. At the end of the day, I said he's the best football coach. He's a changed man, and he has not disappointed at all."

So far, Petrino has done all the right things and said all the right things in his second stint as coach. He has continually praised Jurich and Louisville itself and recently established the Petrino Family Foundation that has donated more than $1 million to charity. He also has caddied for his daughter, Katie, a golfer at Louisville.

His players have been impressed, too. Generally, when coaching changes are made, roster attrition follows. Louisville has lost no major contributors since Petrino came on.

One of his players, receiver DeVante Parker, even called him "nice." That is probably not an adjective anybody expects to hear next to Petrino's name, but perhaps it is a sign he has mellowed -- off the field, anyway.

Even those who do not believe Petrino has earned the benefit of the doubt have to admit Jurich has. Of the four previous football coaching hires he has made, three have gone on to bigger jobs. Four years ago, nobody wanted to hire Strong. Jurich did, and now Strong is a $25 million coach at Texas. Although it's true Strong did not have the same type of baggage, Jurich made a bold hire then, as he's made a bold hire now. Petrino's ability to show he's a changed man will reflect as much on Jurich as it will on him.

"Hiring him back is the best move Louisville could have made," said Harry Douglas, who played for Petrino at Louisville from 2004 to 2006. "No matter what anybody else says, I played for him, and I know the kind of coach he is, and I know how he can get the best out of his players."

But his football acumen is not in question. He might have convinced Jurich and his supporters in Louisville, but Petrino still has work to do to convince all the other skeptics. "I need to prove to myself and everybody else on a daily basis that this is the right decision," he said.

We will know soon enough.

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