If there were any questions about his toughness, they have now been answered as he did so less than 48 hours after a motorcycle accident happened near Crosses community – and five hours after being released from the hospital.
Petrino noted that the accident left him with four cracked ribs, a chipped or broke C2 vertebrae, battered and bruised and also said he was not wearing a helmet and had not had any alcohol.
"It seemed like 15 seconds where I said, 'Oh no! And I went into the ditch," Petrino added. "Right as I came off the pavement I remember hitting the brakes and trying to lower the bike down and lay the bike down and take a little leap."
Petrino was aided by a as yet unknown woman, who got him to a car that then took him to meet state trooper Lance King, who acts as his body guard during games.
"When I came out of the ditch there was a lady there that had flagged down a car," Petrino said. "The guy that was in the passenger seat said ‘get in, we will just take you right to the hospital.' So I got in the car and we just headed toward Fayetteville. In the meantime, my cell phone had a call from Lance King, so we set up a place to meet him and he brought me to the hospital.
"The first call I made was to Dr. (Chris) Arnold to tell him that I needed to get to the emergency room and he was actually in Fort Smith, but made all the arrangements for my arrival," Petrino added.
Petrino said he doesn't think he lost consciousness, but admitted to taking a big hit.
"I don't think I lost consciousness," Petrino said. "I know when I was trying to get from the ground to my feet, it was hard seeing. I was definitely dinged a little bit."
He doesn't think his rescuers knew he was the head football coach at Arkansas.
"I didn't feel like they did," Petrino said. "They didn't talk like they did."
He made it clear that there was no alcohol involved.
"I was given blood tests, but I absolutely had nothing to drink," Petrino said. I spent the day at the lake with my wife (Becky) working. She works me hard when I'm up there, but I absolutely had no alcohol in my system."
He also doesn't think he was speeding.
"I didn't feel like I was speeding," Petrino said. "I felt like I was going the same speed that I did when I maneuvered through those turns going that way. The last thing I remember is looking up at the sun and saying, 'Oh, I'm going to have the sun in my eyes the whole way back.' Then there was a gust of wind that came up. Whether that did it, I don't know."
Petrino noted that the medical staff – who he called amazing - at Physicians Specialty Hospital in Fayetteville got right to it when he got to the hospital.
"I really appreciate the doctors and the way they handled it,' Petrino said. "They were ready to go right when I hit the hospital. The surgeon that did the surgery on my neck last spring was there. We had a plastic surgeon that stitched me up and Dr. Arnold checking other areas."
The Razorback head coach spent Sunday night, all day Monday and Tuesday morning in the hospital.
"I am doing fine now," Petrino said. "I was able to get out today around 11 o'clock, somewhere around there. The doctor said I could watch practice from the press box today. I am fortunate I get to do that."
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said Petrino made improvement since Monday.
"Well, yeah, each day the human body is amazing," Long said. "Each day it heals faster. When I saw him yesterday he looked markedly different than he does today. He looks much better today. Yeah, I was concerned. I was concerned when you first initially saw him yesterday. I could tell he was in pain. It's hard to see the rib damage and that kind of stuff, but you could tell he was not moving normally."
Long, who was in New Orleans and heard about the wreck around 1 a.m., said he advised Petrino to take it easy.
"I tried to convince him that he should take his time," Long said. "Even just take another day to let his body heal. He was respectful of that, but obviously it's his decision and his doctor's decision. They gave him permission to come to practice, do this press conference and watch upstairs. Certainly I respect that. That's his decision, but I want him to make sure he takes the time to heal properly. We'll be advising him along the way. Now, whether he takes that advice or not that remains to be seen."
Long said he knew Petrino would want to get back soon.
"Obviouisly he's strong and I guarantee you that he's masking a lot of the pain that he's in here," Long said. "But he's strong and, he said it today, he wanted to be part of the team. He wanted to talk to the team today and I admire him for it. I'm like the cautious one. I told him to make sure that he took the time he needed. But, he'll rest in between practices." Petrino was very clear about why he wanted to get right back to practice.
"Because I love coaching and I love watching us practice and I want to see our players improve," Petrino said. "I met with our team right before we left and said the number one thing that we have to do as a football team this week is get better. Get better on an individual basis, being able to carry your technique over from individual drills to group drills to team drills. We have to get tougher mentally.
"Last week's practices were hard because I am not sure we have ever had heat like this in the month of May (actually March) so it challenged them with their conditioning and their mental toughness," Petrino added. "I want to see improvement from last week to this week in that area. It is still going to hot and sunny out there."
Petrino, who looked over some scrimmage grades and a practice schedule Monday night brought to him by his brother Paul, said he has confidence in his staff to handle practice while he can't be on the field.
"I am very confident," Petrino said. "I love our staff, I think they have done an excellent job. I guess it is ironic that both Pauls came in to get ready for the bowl game. I have complete confidence that anytime I step out of the room that they are running it just like it should be ran.
"I got here probably around 2:20, had a short meeting with (assistant athletic director) Jon Fagg and went around to all the meeting rooms and everybody were in their meeting rooms getting after it and getting ready for practice."
Petrino looked on from the press box on Tuesday as offensive coordinator Paul Petrino, defensive coordinator Paul Haynes and assistant head coach Taver Johnson led practice.
"I am going to observe just like I would if I was on the field for certain parts of the practice," Petrino said. "I will have a walkie talkie up there in case I need to relay anything through Andy Wagner or Mark Robinson. But pretty much Paul (Petrino), Paul Haynes and Taver Johnson have spent the last couple of days preparing for the practice. So they will go out there and run it."
Petrino admitted that he loves riding his motorcycles and had not intended to go as far as he did on Sunday.
"I enjoy going out and riding the bike," Petrino said. "I was just going out on a Sunday night after dinner short ride. I had been out in that area before but I normally stopped at Elkins High School and turned around and came back, so I went a little further."
He admitted the accident has given him some pause.
"It's something that really puts a scare in you," Petrino said. "I can't say I am not going to ride a motorcycle again because I might do that. The ironic thing is that we are sitting there in the kitchen, (his wife) Becky and I, and I have two helmets out. And I say this one is really going to be heavy and hot and this one makes me look like a conehead, I think I'll just go with the hat. Obviously, a bad call because I wouldn't have converted a third down."
He acknowledged he would put a helmet on from now on, talk to his team about that and joked about how he didn't think he had any brain damage.
"Yeah, I don't think I have any brain damage," Petrino said. "That's yet to be seen. If I start not punting at all in the games or something, then we have a problem. I feel great, though. I feel alert."
Long said he had no plans to put a clause into Petrino's contract about not riding motorcycles.
"No, that's not something I'd consider," Long said. "He has the right to entertain himself or recreate. Certainly would wish he'd wear a helmet, but that's his decision. I think you heard today that in the future he will."
Long said he will never question his coach's toughness.
"No, I would not question his toughness and I'm sure his players don't either," Long said.
Petrino thanked the Arkansas fans and his players.
"Like I said, I am very fortunate to be here and very fortunate to have great support from everybody throughout the state and very happy for our football team and how they showed their support for me," Petrino said. "I'll be back. I will be up early tomorrow."
Photo by Logan Wilson