The Petrino family sure loves Louisville athletics.
On Thursday, the school announced that Bobby Petrino would return as head football coach. He had coached the Cardinals in 2003-06, leading the program to national prominence before bolting for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Petrino’s welcoming party at Louisville included a family member who already is representing the school.
Katie, Bobby’s youngest daughter, is a redshirt junior on Louisville’s women’s golf team.
“It’s definitely been hectic,” Katie said. “My whole family is extremely excited. We were excited and nervous on Tuesday, but ultimately ended up very, very happy.”
When classes resumed Jan. 6, the football program was actively seeking a new head football coach to replace Charlie Strong, who left for Texas. The next day, her father’s name was being publicly discussed for the Louisville job. On campus, students and facility made signs that read, “Bring Bobby Back.”
“The Louisville faithful are excited,” Katie said. “There is obviously the other side for a couple of people, but like last night’s basketball game, the arena started chanting, ‘Bobby, Bobby’ and it seems like a really good vibe.”
Petrino returns to Louisville as a proven winner but with some baggage. He resigned abruptly after one year with the Falcons, returning to college football at Arkansas, where he was dismissed after a scandal involving an extramarital affair with a staff member.
Katie doesn’t see her father in that light. He was the main reason she started playing golf, bringing her to the course when she was as young as 10.
Katie played golf and softball in high school in Fayetteville, Ark., but focused on golf when she moved to Florida to attend the Gary Gilchrist Academy during her senior year.
During the past fall, she had two top-5 finishes for Louisville, which is No. 35 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings. She said her dad intends to attend the Cardinals’ first tournament, the Central District Invitational on Feb. 17-18 in Bradenton, Fla., before spring football begins, and then plans to be at the American Athletic Conference Championship in late April.
“I’ve always been proud to represent the university over the last three years, and now I’m even more proud with my dad becoming the football coach,” Petrino said. “With the university moving to the ACC next year, it’s competitive for golf as well as football. It’s going to be a great time to be a Louisville Cardinal.”