In part for the Hog hoopsters, but also because he had 19 football recruits – including the nation's top-rated one in Dorial Green-Beckham – to show that off to.
"First of all, how exciting is that at the basketball game today to have a full house, sellout," Petrino said. " It's s great for our university, it's great for (Razorback head basketball coach) Mike Anderson and his program and certainly helps us, particularly when we have a recruiting weekend like we do this weekend."
It was the first time Petrino had met with the press since the Arkansas downed Kansas State 29-16 in the Cotton Bowl back on Jan. 6th in Arlington, Texas.
"When we look back at last year's season, I'm extremely proud of our football team," Petrino said. "We certainly learned how to overcome adversity when we start off the season in two-a-days and we lose Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson's hurt, Broderick Green's injured. Our players just kept working hard and fighting to get better. We played the first half of the season mostly without Tenarius Wright and Jake Bequette.
"It really showed how when you stick together and you have a common ground and a common cause, that you can overcome when bad things happen to you," Petrino added. "And then we just kept getting better as the year went on."
He praised his seniors – who came in when he too over at Arkansas four years ago - for leading the way.
"It will always be a special group of seniors, a group that we came in together and got beat up for a while and worked hard," Petrino said. "And that group of seniors certainly changed our program. They taught people how we're going to work, what our standards are going to be. Their attitude, particularly at halftime of the Texas A&M game, helped us win a lot of games this year.
"So I'm proud of the team.," Petrino said. "We did a lot of great things. We tied the school with 11 wins, I think we tied or broke 24 school records, and went undefeated at home. That's one of the things that's always huge for us, is to make sure we go undefeated at home, and we did that.
Petrino noted that his staff is knee deep in recruiting with national signing date looming on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
"As far as our staff, we're right in the middle of recruiting," Petrino said. "We're working hard at it. I think we can have a very good recruiting class, but like we tell our players all the time, you have to finish. It's going to be important for our coaches and myself to make sure we finish and finish this class of the way we need to."
The 19 recruits on hand this weekend got a chance to see Petrino and his team accept the Cotton Bowl trophy and get a thunderous standing ovation.
That included All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson, who recently announced along with tailback Knile Davis – who missed the entire year with an injury – that he would return for another season instead of enter the NFL draft.
Several Razorback juniors sent in their paper work to get an idea where they would go in the draft and what they needed to work on.
"Well, I think they all made the right decisions," Petrino said with a laugh. "When I say that, I wanted them all to come back, there's no question about that. They all got the information back from the NFL. We educated them on where they're at, and they have to sit down with their parents and make a decision. I think they were all very informed. They did a good job of treating the process the way it should be treated. And obviously I'm happy with the decisions.
"(It's like) Two really good recruits coming in with Tyler and Knile coming back," Petrino added. "Other guys had opportunities, too. But you have to do the right thing."
Wilson can definitely improve, according to Petrino.
"There's no question that Tyler has a lot of things he can really improve on," Petrino said. "He had a great year for us. He showed a competitive spirit, a toughness, with the ability to throw the football make all the throws. He has a lot of things he can improve on starting with his footwork, and his timing, which got better as the year went on. We improved in a lot of areas as the year went on, and that's how you win games, particularly in the last month of the season."
Wilson was told that he could have gone anywhere from the late first round to the third round of the NFL draft.
"Kind of going through the decision process, I never really thought that I would be in this situation to make a decision, based on our previous outlook throughout the season. I said, ‘Yeah, I'm going to come back another year.' Obviously, some things change, some people come back and decide to stay.
"But, I felt like we had a great team coming back," Wilson said "It's never been my personality to leave early. I've always believed in completing whatever it was I was working with. I decided, ‘Hey, I'm going to come back with Knile.' Knile called me a couple of times to say, ‘hey, I'm in.' Definitely I'm happy I decided to come back. We're in a situation I feel like we've got a great team. And I'm excited about it."
Davis, who rushed for over 1,300 yards as a sophomore, said he made an informed decision and was told that he would have gone in the second or third round.
"For me, I know me and Tyler both got reasonable grades," Davis said. "I don't think there was a wrong decision. It could go either way. For me, I just felt like my career here wasn't complete. I never envisioned myself leaving the University of Arkansas like that. I wanted to leave on a high note. I just wanted the opportunity to play with Tyler Wilson and under coach Bobby Petrino. We'll have a good team coming back with an opportunity to get back to the big game. That's my mindset. That's my focus."
Davis said he believes he will be ready for the spring.
"I'm feeling good,' Davis said "I think I'm getting better every day. I try to get in the rehab room as much as I can. I think there is still room for improvement. Even when I'm 100-percent, there is still room for improvement. I've still got things to work on, but I m feeling better and I'm ready for the spring."
The Razorback staff will be guarded with how they treat Davis in spring practice.
"In the spring, we have to really see where he's at," Petrino said. "He's been released to start running full speed, changing directions. But during spring football you really have to see where he's at. When you get to the fall, you have to get him ready for the games. In the game of football, to be ready to play football, you have to go live, you have to be ready to play. So we'll evaluate how he's doing in the spring, where he's at before he would do any live contact."
Petrino noted that his team will go into next season with national championship aspirations.
"Certainly our players and our coaches have very high expectations," Petrino said. "Obviously, our administration does, and our fan base. And to me, that's great. Like I‘ve said all the time, I embrace high expectations as something that drives you, motivates you and gets us to work harder every day."
What will it take?
"Two more wins," Petrino said. "That is really what it is. You have got to be there consistently. That is what we are fighting for – to be there consistently, continue to compete for it, get yourself in an opportunity in November when you have a chance to get to Atlanta. We have been there, we have knocked on the door. We have just got to keep going and sooner or later we will knock it down."
He admitted that having Alabama and LSU coming to Arkansas next season was better than going to play them at their stadiums.
"We look forward to it," Petrino said. "It's great to have them in our home stadium. If you're going to have a special football team, if you're going to building the program the way you want to build it, then you've got to win your home games, start a home wining streak. That's something we've been working hard at.
"In the previous two years I think we only had one loss at home," Petrino added. "This year we were able to win all our home games, so hopefully we can put a streak together and continue that."
Arkansas has added four new coaches since the end of the regular season with Paul Petrino coming back to take over as offensive coordinator and three new defensive coaches added in coordinator Paul Haynes, linebackers coach Taver Johnson and new defensive line coach Kevin Peoples.
"It's an exciting time, it really is," Petrino said. "We have brought in some guys on the defensive staff that I am really excited about. We have guys that are great teachers, great developers of players and great motivators so I am excited about that.
"Bringing Paul back is a comfort for me," Petrino added. "He stepped right in and took off like he has never been gone. He is such an inspirational coach and a great motivator."
Johnson also has the title of assistant head coach.
"It is not new to our staff," Petrino said. "Mike Summers was the assistant head coach when I first came in here and it is something that Taver was interested in doing. You learn about a lot of the other aspects of being a coach – the business part, the scholarship count part of it. How you balance everything outside of the football field. It will be a great experience for him and it is something that will help me and (director of football operations) Mark Robinson a lot."
He also spoke on back-up quarterback Brandon Mitchell's decision to join the basketball team.
"He'll be back out there and going (with football later)," Petrino said. "He's always wanted to give basketball a shot. He called over the holidays after the bowl game and asked what I thought. I said ‘well, what does Coach Anderson think? That is kind of the important thing because I have always supported a player if he wants to play basketball and he has enough time with spring football to be able to do that."
"I talked to Mike and he was kind of like ‘I have had a couple of football players that wanted to do this before but the first day when we ran 50 suicides they didn't come back," Petrino added. "So he said ‘we'll kind of see how it works out. I understand he is a very talented guy and is supposed to be a good basketball player.'
"So I said, ‘If it is okay with you, that is what he wants to do then and it is fine with me,'" Petrino continued.
Petrino said that there was no new news on the 12th game of the season.
"Nothing new," Petrino said. "We are working hard at it. But with all these (conference) changes and litigation, it's hard. This is the first time that I have ever had a schedule that is not ready by this time. I know it is a work in progress and it is not just for us, but for a number of teams throughout the country."
Photos by Marc F. Henning
Bobby Petrino leads his Razorbacks in the Hog Call.
Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson
Dorial Green-Beckham, the nation's top 2012 high school football recruit, is one of 19 recruits taking official visits to Arkansas this weekend.
DGB and other recruits laugh it up before the game.