"Their athletic director called Tom Jurich Saturday night to request permission to speak with me and I did Sunday morning in Nashville on the way down to Memphis," Petrino said. Petrino further indicated that the discussions were of a preliminary nature and refused further comment on the matter, stating, "I said I will not answer any questions in this regard," when asked about the situation with LSU.
According to various media reports during the past two days, Petrino met with LSU officials Sunday in Nashville. ESPN.com reported earlier today that Petrino would not be offered the Tigers job by LSU officials until after No. 7 Louisville's game against Boise State this Friday in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, though it appears he is the leading candidate for the job.
Petrino, who received an enhanced contract with a significant raise last week from U of L, said just days ago that his new contract should end speculation that he would be interested in the LSU job in the event it came open.
"This is the place my family and I want to be and we're looking forward to the future," Petrino said December 21, the day he signed his new deal with U of L. "This will help in recruiting and show that we are totally committed to winning the Big East championship and eventually winning the national championship."
Mentioned as a prime candidate for several positions this season, including Florida, Notre Dame, Washington and Mississippi, Petrino issued a statement on December 7 that seemingly put an end to speculation that the 43-year old Montana native would coach anywhere but U of L next season.
"Louisville is the perfect place to raise a family and I plan for all four of my children to graduate from high school in Louisville," Petrino said after a report in the Boston Globe linked him to the then vacant Notre Dame job.
There appears to be a widening gap between Petrino's previous statements and his most recent actions that have Cardinals fans buzzing on Internet message boards and on talk radio.
"I don't begrudge him for looking at a job like LSU, it's a big-time program in a great conference," one longtime U of L fan and booster said Tuesday afternoon. "But to make the statements he's made recently to the fans and media in Louisville and then turn around and meet with LSU officials just days after getting his new contract simply doesn't sit well with a lot of Cardinal fans that I know."
Several prospective student-athletes have recently informed Inside The Ville that they had received assurances from Petrino that he'd be the coach at U of L next season and indicated he had no interest in another position.
Petrino, who secretly met with Auburn officials following the 2003 season that resulted in the dismissal of both the athletic director and university president at Auburn, also sent a letter in recent weeks to former U of L football players indicating that he would lead the Cardinals into the Big East next season.