Petrino's Big Day of Questions

HOOVER, Ala. — Bobby Petrino wasn't sure where to go when he walked into a crowded ballroom inside the Wynfrey Hotel on Friday morning.

But he quickly found his way up a short flight of steps and onto a stage, where he faced more tough questions involving the Atlanta Falcons.

From the moment he arrived, it was apparent that this was Petrino's first trip to the Southeastern Conference Media Days.

The new Arkansas coach was escorted from one interview room to the next, looking as comfortable as he could for a guy who's never been considered a media darling.

"It's my most favorite thing," Petrino joked when asked where he'd rank speaking at the SEC Media Days on his list of coaching obligations. "No, this is part of the job. I understand that.

"I respect your job (as reporters) and what you all have to do, asking the tough questions. I have no problem with that, none at all."

While this was all new to him, Petrino handled the barrage of questions and found a way to nearly upstage Steve Spurrier on the final day of the SEC Media Days. The South Carolina coach followed Petrino as the final speaker during the three-day media circus.

"He had about as much fun in the NFL as I did," Spurrier said of Petrino. "When he went, I gave him two years. He almost made it one."

There was no doubt when Petrino took the stage Friday morning what the hundreds of reporters in attendance wanted to ask him about. They weren't too interested in the development of Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick or the lack of depth at linebacker.

In fact, the second question Petrino faced was about his decision to leave the Falcons after less than one season to become Arkansas' coach. He was asked several more times about the Falcons before the day was over.

"It was a difficult season. You always look back and really try to reflect on what I could have done better here, what we could have done better here," Petrino said. "Certainly, we'll try to do a better job in our communication with our players."

Petrino, dressed in a black suit and red tie, appeared calm and collected as he spoke. He said his lone season with the Falcons was the most trying situation of his career, adding that he loves everything about being a college coach.

"I think everybody has a misperception with the way he left the Falcons, the way the media portrayed him," Arkansas center Jonathan Luigs said. "But to me, he's been a first-class guy and a very caring individual."

A large gathering of TV cameramen crowded around Petrino and followed him as he walked through the hallways of the Wynfrey Hotel on Friday morning. He couldn't go anywhere unnoticed.

During one of his final TV interviews, a reporter asked Petrino if he could call the Hogs for the cameras. Petrino cracked a smile and said, "You've already see me do that on national television," referring to his now infamous introductory news conference at Arkansas on Dec. 11.

Petrino was arguably the hottest topic on the final day of the SEC Media Days, especially when Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville spoke to reporters a few hours before it was Petrino's turn to talk.

Petrino served as Tuberville's offensive coordinator for one season in 2002. A year later, Auburn officials flew to secretly talk with Petrino — then Louisville's coach — about the possibility of replacing Tuberville.

Petrino apologized when the meeting became public, and Tuberville said he has since moved past the ordeal.

"This is a business, I understand that. We all get caught up in certain scenarios, that's just part of it," Tuberville said. "Bobby and I have talked many times since then. Since he's been the head coach there (at Arkansas), we've talked several times at meetings."

Petrino had a chance to bump into his former boss as he moved from one interview to the next, answering many of the same questions and soaking in his first trip the SEC Media Days.

"The best thing about media days," Petrino said, "is that it means that the season's just about to start and we get to start practicing Aug. 4."



Arkansas' Key Dates

Players report Aug. 3

First day of practice Aug. 4

Arkansas media day Aug. 5

Season opener Aug. 30

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