Petrino apologizes to U of L, fans

University of Louisville coach Bobby Petrino took the first steps Monday afternoon toward mending fences with his boss, U of L Athletic Director Tom Jurich and Cardinal fans following his most recent flirtation with LSU.

Bobby Petrino took the first steps toward mending fences with the University of Louisville and its fan base Monday afternoon following last week's flirtation with LSU.

At a press conference in the recruiting lounge that was broadcast live on local television stations, Petrino admitted mistakes in his handling of the situation with LSU.

"I'd like to apologize for the uproar that I caused to the fans and the administration last week," Petrino said. "It was certainly not my intent. When I met with LSU Sunday night, I wanted to make sure a situation like what happened at the 2002 GMAC Bowl didn't happen again. It was my intent to meet with them, get it behind us and prepare the team for the game."

Petrino said he'd probably have handled the situation differently in hindsight. "Obviously if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have done it that way," he said.

One of Petrino's biggest tasks during the offseason will be rebuilding trust with the U of L fans. During his press conference, Petrino made a point of thanking the fans for their support this season and acknowledged the work he has ahead to get back into their good graces.

"I think that we have the best fans in the country," Petrino said. "I am so proud of our fans this year. They sold out almost every game we had. And I can't say it enough about the support we had."

"I have to do some repair work, there is no question about it," Petrino continued. "I was wrong because of the timing of the situation."

One issue many fans had with Petrino's handling of the situation were statements that he made the day U of L enhanced his contract when the coach stated he had no interest in the position at LSU. Despite making those statements, Petrino felt he owed it to himself for professional reason to at least listen to what LSU officials had to say.

"I needed to sit down and speak with them," Petrino said of LSU. "Our goal is to become national champions. And here was an opportunity to sit down with a group of people that this time last year were the national champions."

"I felt like I owed that opportunity to myself and that it was something that I should do," he continued. "Obviously if I had it to do over I probably would have said no [to the meeting with LSU]."

Petrino also must repair his relationship with his boss, U of L Vice President of Athletics Tom Jurich.

"My biggest concern is getting my relationship back to where it was with Tom," Petrino admitted. "Tom's a terrific athletic director and a better friend. I will do everything in my power to repair the relationship back to where it was."

How will he go about mending his relationship with Jurich and U of L fans in the coming months?

"I've just got to recruit and put together a great recruiting class and get ready for spring ball and make sure we're better when we enter the Big East next season," Petrino said. "It's really going to come down to just showing them."

Having flirted with other schools each of the past two seasons, Petrino said he'll handle similar situations in the future much different than he has in the past, though he gave no indication that he's willing to seperate from his agent, Russ Campbell. Campbell has received much of the blame for Petrino's handling in potential job opportunities.

"Obviously, I understand that concern," Petrino said when asked fans concerns with other job opportunities in the future. "[After the Auburn situation last year] I wanted to show that my focus was on coaching the football team this year. It's to the point now where when someone says Coach Petrino's name is being considered for this job or that job, I'm simply going to have to say I'm not interested."

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