Louisville where Petrino, family want to be

Will Bobby Petrino's enhanced contract at the University of Louisville be enough to keep Louisiana State University at bay if current Tigers coach Nick Saban takes a job in the national football league?

As expected, the University of Louisville Athletic Association Board of Directors unanimously approved an enhanced contract for head football coach Bobby Petrino Tuesday morning.

Under the terms of Petrino's new contract, which enhances his current deal that runs through 2010, the second-year coach will see his base salary increased to $500,000 from $300,000 with a guaranteed annual income of $1 million per season. Petrino's new contract also contains two additional incentives for reaching and winning the BCS Championship game totally $100,000.

"It's another great step for the program," Jurich said. "Bobby's done a tremendous job and he's earned this. I don't think you could ask anymore of a football coach than he's given us. We're very priviledged to have Bobby and I think we can continue to build something special here."

"I'm fired up," Petrino said. "I think it's a great end to the season."

Is the million dollar a year deal enough to keep Petrino a Cardinal for the near future? "Definitely," Petrino added.

Following a 10-1 season and No. 7 national ranking, Petrino's name found its way on the short list for open positions at Florida, Mississippi, Notre Dame and Washington. And with LSU coach Nick Saban discussing the open coaching position with Miami Dolphins officials today, Petrino has recently been mentioned as a prime candidate to replace him in Baton Rouge in the event Saban packs his bags for the pros. The question now becomes, will this new deal put to rest overatures from LSU officials?

"I don't think it ever puts anything to rest," Jurich admitted. "If I were the athletic deirector at LSU, Bobby would be the first person I would want to talk to, too. We've tried to put a great package together for his staff and show them how much we want them here."

However, Petrino said his deal should put those rumors to rest.

"I think it does," Petrino said of the LSU speculation. "This is the place my family and I want to be and we're looking forward to the future. This will help in recruiting and show that we are totally committed to winning the Big East championship and eventually winning the national championship."

Jurich admitted that U of L couldn't match dollar for dollar what some of the more established football powers nationally could offer. However, the U of L athletic director believes his university has put together an attractive package that should keep Petrino and his family happy in Louisville for the next several years.

"There are programs out there with bigger check books and I will admit that," Jurich said. "We'll do everything in our power to keep things stabalized here."

According to the new deal, Petrino would receive $50,000 for reaching the national championship game and another $50,000 for winning the title. While some may view that clause as improbable, Petrino thinks otherwise. "I think it's realistic, that's our goal," Petrino said. "We're committed to getting that done."

With six appearances and five wins this season on ESPN, Jurich said he received the ultimate compliment from the networks head man that proves Petrino's worth to U of L.

"One of the greatest compliments that I received was from Mark Shapiro, who is the CEO of ESPN, and he said that [we] are officially ESPN's and America's team," Jurich said.


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