Knowing full well that the media had been wanting to talk to him for quite a while, Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino decided to open up Saturday's press conference with a little humor.
"Where have you guys been?" Petrino said with a big smile. "I have been busy. A lot of home visits, action with hiring staff, back to bowl practice. The last few days have been really enjoyable getting back on the field and working and keeping the young guys out afterwards."
Petrino, meeting with the media for the first time since the LSU loss, was excited to talk about the hiring of former Ohio State assistant Paul Haynes as his new defensive coordinator and his younger brother Paul Petrino as the offensive coordinator.
Haynes was a quality control coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars when Petrino was the offensive coordinator.
"The first thing I really like about him is his work ethic," Petrino said. "I was in the room with him a bunch doing that. And we were staying late. He's an extremely hard worker. He's very, very sharp and really understands the game. The thing I liked is being able to make the adjustments that they made. It was fun, because when I was talking with him, we were talking about not only what they do defensively but what we did in our (Sugar) bowl game (last season with Ohio State.) What we did in our bowl game, what adjustments they made, how they tweaked this coverage.
"He really understands the game," Petrino added. "He's a guy that's going to push his players extremely hard. They're going to be disciplined, but he also has that relationship where he can put his arm around him and give him a hug when they need that. I really like the way he handles players."
Haynes is due to arrive in Fayetteville on Saturday and there will be an introductory press conference for him on Monday afternoon.
"We're putting him to work," Petrino said. "Come out here and coach and get going. That was another thing I like about him, was that he had zero fear of doing that. ‘Let's go. I'm ready to come in. We'll keep your communications, but let's go.' So I was really excited about that type of attitude."
The Razorbacks will keep their same scheme and terminology leading up their Cotton Bowl date with Kansas State on Jan. 6th.
"That was a big part of our discussions there, and there's a lot of things obviously that all defenses do that are similar," Petrino said. "What we're going to do is keep our terminology through the bowl game, and then after the bowl game just get to the defense that he wants to run."
Petrino was asked about Haynes' having just one year of experience as a co-defensive coordinator. That came this past season at Ohio State after being just the secondary coach for the previous five seasons.
"When he was a secondary coach he was calling the third downs and then last year he called both second and third down," Petrino said. "That's interesting the way they did that. The guy that was the interim head coach and Paul kind of worked together on it as far as the gameplan. It was interesting the way they did it. They did everything together. They had four defensive coaches. They had the extra coach on offense. so they did the whole thing together. And he basically said any four of us could've made the calls because of how close they worked."
Haynes will replace Willy Robinson, whose contract was not renewed after four years as the Arkansas defensive coordinator.
"I just thought it was time," Petrino said. "It was time to go in a different direction.
It was also the first time that Petrino had a chance to talk about the hiring of his younger brother Paul, who coached wide receivers when at Arkansas in 2008-2009 and will now coach quarterbacks.
"It's great to have Paul back here," Petrino said. " It's great to have a guy that can jump right in and take over the meetings and knows the offense and knows the players and knows the personnel and can just take off from where he left us a couple of years ago.
"I am excited about him coaching quarterbacks," Petrino added. " When we first started this off at Louisville, I gave him the choice. I said, 'What do you want to coach? Do you want to coach quarterbacks ? Do you want to coach the wide receivers?' And his answer was, 'Well, I bet you will be talking to the quarterbacks. So I think the best thing I can do for our team is coach the wide receivers. But in doing that he has always had a huge part in the quarterbacks. I have gotten times where he has had them for drill work and progression work and meetings. Quarterbacks and receivers work extremely close. And the carryover is really exciting."
He was asked if Paul had mellowed since his last stint as a Razorback coach.
"Well, what it really is is the change from coaching the quarterbacks to coaching wide receivers," Petrino said. "You know? When you're coaching quarterbacks you've got to be back there, see what the quarterback sees, instruct the quarteback on what he's doing. He doesn't get to chase the ball down the field and follow the ball.
"He's certainly not laid back," Petrino said. "I'm excited to have him back. I know our players are, too. I know before the first practice that we went to I was listening to the senior receivers talk to the sophomores and freshmen, (saying) 'You better get ready to get after it today now.' So, it's been fun."
Petrino also announced that Kevin Peoples will become the permanent defensive line coach and former defensive line coach Bobby Allen will share the secondary with Haynes.
Peoples has been the director of football operations for the past two seasons after being the defensive line coach at Arkansas State and other places.
"When I brought him here two years ago i knew he (Peoples) was going to get on the field and coach," Petrino said. "I've got a lot of respect for Kevin. He's a very, very good football coach. really an expert at defensive line play. Bobby is kind of back where his love is in the secondary and where he's coached the most. It's a real advantage we've had him as a previous coordinator. We actually coached against each other when he was a defensive coordinator and I was an offensive coordinator. He was at Boise State. We beat them."
Reggie Johnson will continue to coach the linebackers.
"Yeah, that's how it will work out right now. and then Coach Haynes will be in the secondary with Bobby," Petrino said. "i don't know if he's going to have Bobby with the corners or the safeties. That will be his decision."
Defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell will take on the added role of special teams coordinator.
Petrino will have to hire a new director of football operations to replace Peoples, but he hopes that is the only other addition he has to make to his staff.
"I hope we're done," Petrino said. "We've had enough, you know. We've had enough. So I hope we're done. We've got some young graduate assistants that have done a great job for us, Richard Owens and Brandon Sharp that it's probably time for them to get out and get a full-time job. Both of them could return one year, one more year. Obviously I hope they do that, but they also are ready to coach. Both of them are really ready to coach."
Petrino was also asked what area Peoples would be in charge of recruiting, but said he hasn't decided that yet
"He was really interested in that we've went into Georgia quite a bit lately," Petrino said. "Obviously we're in Florida. Steve Caldwell's been pretty thin going both Houston and going into Georgia. so that might be where we put Steve down in Houston more. We haven't really sat down as a staff and really dictated that out, and we probably won't until after the signing date.
"Cause what we do now is we're on a bunch of kids, we know who we're recruiting and normally we try to patch up and go get who we're on," Petrino added. "He's got to go in and see all the defensive guys that we're recruiting. He's going to be real busy after next week. He'll be here mostly next week. I think he's going out a couple of days. But then after the signing date, then we're really talk about what areas we're going to be in."
Petrino Lauds New Hires
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