Petrino Hires Offensive Coordinator

FAYETTEVILLE — Bobby Petrino had no trouble finding an offensive coordinator to join him at Arkansas.

All he had to do was look to his own family.

Paul Petrino was hired Friday as the first member of his older brother's coaching staff with the Razorbacks. The move was expected.

Paul Petrino, 40, served as his brother's offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach at the University of Louisville when the Cardinals had one of the nation's most explosive offenses from 2003-06.

When Bobby Petrino was hired earlier this year as the Atlanta Falcons' coach, he brought his brother with him as a receivers coach. The two have a long history of working together.

And it was assumed that Paul Petrino would be joining Arkansas' coaching staff when he resigned from the Falcons on Wednesday, a day after his brother abruptly left the team and agreed to replace Houston Nutt.

"I am pleased to have Paul joining our staff at Arkansas," Petrino said in a statement released through the university on Friday afternoon.

"He is a talented offensive mind and a valuable coach on the field and in recruiting. He was instrumental in the success we had at Louisville. I know he is excited about this opportunity, and he will hit the ground running."

Before Paul Petrino could be hired as Arkansas' offensive coordinator, school officials asked the NCAA for a waiver so the Razorbacks could have more than the maximum number of coaches allowed on a staff.

The NCAA permits each school to have one head coach, nine assistants and two graduate assistants.

"We asked (for) some release from that rule, in other words to be able to be above that (coaching limit)," Arkansas compliance director Marvin Caston said.

Former Arkansas recruiting coordinator and safeties coach Chris Vaughn left the Razorbacks' staff on Wednesday to make room for Bobby Petrino, who signed a five-year contract that pays him $2.85 million annually.

Arkansas wanted to make sure that Paul Petrino could join his brother's staff without another current assistant being forced to leave before the Razorbacks face No. 7 Missouri in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1.

Caston said the NCAA granted Arkansas the waiver on Friday morning, meaning that Paul Petrino was cleared to begin working and recruiting for the Hogs. The only condition is that Arkansas cannot have more than seven coaches recruiting at the same time.

Caston said Paul Petrino passed an exam on Thursday that all coaches are required to take before they're allowed to start recruiting. The younger Petrino was on the road Friday helping his brother recruit.

Neither Bobby Petrino nor Paul Petrino was available for comment.

"I am really excited to be at Arkansas and be part of this great program," Paul Petrino said in a statement released through the university. "I'm looking forward to competing for championships in the best league in the country.

"... I am grateful for the opportunity and am really looking forward to getting out there to coach and recruit."

Paul Petrino's hiring continues the tradition of brothers working on the same coaching staff at Arkansas. Throughout most of his tenure with the Razorbacks, Nutt had his younger brother, Danny Nutt, as his running backs coach.

Louisville averaged 41.1 points per game in the four seasons that Paul Petrino served as its offensive coordinator, and that average reached as high as 49.8 ppg. in 2004.

The Cardinals ranked second in the nation in total offense in 2006, gaining 476.8 yards per game. They also averaged 38.9 points per game — third best in the nation — while going 12-1 that season.

Bobby Petrino is expected to finalize his coaching staff over the next few weeks. Several former Louisville assistants who followed him to Atlanta could be possibilities.

Arkansas running backs coach Tim Horton, who has been traveling around the state while recruiting with Bobby Petrino over the past few days, could also remain with the Razorbacks.

Arkansas interim coach Reggie Herring is also an option, though it's not likely.

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