Bobby Petrino delighted a packed house at his introduction as Arkansas football coach. He told cheering fans he "expected to score every time our offense takes the field."
Petrino promised the offense "would be very aggressive" in its style of play. He added, "We want to be able to run the ball when we want to and when we have to and we want to be able to throw when we want to and we when we have to." Fans roared their approval to those words. Defensively, he said his goal is "to stop the run first, hit the quarterback number two."
Petrino signed a five-year contract believed to be in the range of $2.85 million per year. He left a multi-year contract in the range of $4 million per year when he resigned as the head coach of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons earlier in the day.
The new coach said he agreed to his contract before boarding the plane to come to Arkansas. UA athletic director Jeff Long said it was signed soon after take off. He first said it was signed probably in Georgia air space. The press conference was called when he was still on the ground just before boarding the plane. He was confident enough that the news release about the press conference could be sent at that point.
Petrino will take the NCAA recruiting test first thing Wednesday morning and begin to recruit. He said all 19 commitments will be honored. Asked about who he would hire on his staff, Petrino said, "That's premature." However, one thing was clear, Petrino said he will call his own plays.
Long said he Petrino was on his list early in the search process. However, he said that he started out with a list of all BCS head coaches and all NFL head coaches and a few college head coaches not from BCS conferences.
Asked why they picked the unusual time of 10:30 p.m. for the announcement, Long said, "We didn't want to wait. We just wanted to get it done, get on with it. And, the sooner we did it, the sooner (Bobby Petrino) could begin to recruit."
There are some NCAA red tape that has to be done on Wednesday morning before he can recruit. Obviously, the recruiting test is first. Long also said the paperwork must be sent to the NCAA office that lists the new head coach as one of the coaches on the staff able to recruit.
"He'll pass the test, I assure you of that," Long said. "We'll get on (recruiting) pretty quickly."
Long said he first learned of the true interest Petrino had in Arkansas sometime between 7 and 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. He was still on his first cup of coffee. But the first time he could talk to him was a little before 5 p.m. eastern when Petrino resigned as Falcons coach.
An ESPN report that Petrino resigned as Falcons coach via a phone call is untrue, the new Arkansas coach said. He insisted he resigned in person.
Among the things Petrino considered in making the moves were the tremendous facilities, the history of the football program and "the passion here to win a national championship." Membership in the SEC was also front and center in his decision.
"I researched the history -- that's one of the things I always do," Petrino said. "It shows we can win here."
Long said football history was one of the things that was discussed on a very fun plane ride from Atlanta to Fayetteville.
Petrino was asked about the national perception that Arkansas was the seventh or eighth best team in the SEC and what he would do to change those national thoughts, he said, "I've always wanted to speak softly and carry a big stick."
Asked about the turmoil at Arkansas and the pressure from fans concerning Freedom of Information requests and banners flown behind planes over the stadium, he said, "I wasn't aware of any of that. When you are coaching football, you don't get to see a lot. You are on focused on a schedule. You are so busy going from one game to the next. When I come home, I don't turn on SportsCenter. Mostly, I watch an old movie, something boring that puts me to sleep."
Petrino indicated he would not coach the bowl game, instead focusing on recruiting and putting together his staff. He would not reveal any clues to the potential staff, calling that "premature."
Bobby Petrino answers questions at the media conference to announce his hiring as Arkansas football coach.
Bobby Petrino laughs after confirming that he definitely had signed his Arkansas contract.
Bobby Petrino, with wife Becky, leads a Hog Call.
Bobby Petrino acknowledges the cheers of fans, with AD Jeff Long in the background.
Photos by Marc F. Henning, Hawgs Illustrated
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