Petrino No Fan of Kentucky Blue

FAYETTEVILLE — When Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino reaches into his closet for a shirt to wear, there is one color that he usually tries to avoid.

"I still don't wear blue very much," Petrino said.

Even though it's been two years since he coached his last game at Louisville, the color blue still reminds Petrino of the University of Kentucky — his former instate rival.

For four years, Petrino competed against Kentucky coach Rich Brooks for local recruits. And the two men spent their summers preparing for the Governor's Cup, the nickname given to the annual game between Louisville and Kentucky that typically serves as the season opener.

Petrino won all four times he faced the Wildcats as Louisville's coach. And now that he's at Arkansas, he hopes to remain undefeated when he returns to the Bluegrass State for Saturday's game against Kentucky in Commonwealth Stadium.

"I think they like me there. We'll find out," Petrino said Monday. "It was a good rivalry. It was something where the greatest part about it (was) when I was at Louisville it was our opening game.

"It was great for the state of Kentucky football really. You talked about it all winter long. You talked about it all summer long. It was something you could build on."

Brooks arrived at Kentucky in 2003, the same year Petrino was hired at Louisville. Both coaches have suffered through short, unsuccessful stints as NFL coaches. And according to Brooks, there are no hard feelings when the two former rivals run into each other now at events.

"We saw each other at the SEC Media Days. We talked, shook hands, said hello, just like we normally would," Brooks said in late July at the Southeastern Conference Football Media Days in Hoover, Ala.

"You know, one of our rivals (at Kentucky) is supposed to be Tennessee as well. But we haven't beaten them in so long that Phillip (Fulmer) and I have become pretty good friends. He loves the death out of me."

Based on that logic, Petrino should downright adore Brooks.

Petrino earned his first head coaching win in 2003 when Louisville beat Kentucky 40-24 in Lexington. He proceeded to open each of his next three seasons with wins over the Wildcats — 28-0 in 2004, 31-24 in 2005 and 58-29 in 2006.

In fact, the only other team that Petrino has beaten as many times as Kentucky during his time as a head coach is Cincinnati.

"Well, he's obviously got a 4-0 record on me," Brooks said of Petrino. "Whooped me up the head pretty good."

Brooks acknowledged that Kentucky isn't the same team it was when Petrino was coaching at Louisville. The Wildcats have improved significantly.

However, the two coaches will be able to use their familiarity with one another when they devise their respective game plans this week.

"It helps some. You have some knowledge of what they like to do and what they've had success with," Petrino said. "We know a lot of their players because we knew about them in recruiting.

"So there's definitely some advantage of knowing them. They also know us, too. They also spent all summer and winter when we played them studying on what to do, what our habits are. So it pretty much all washes out."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories