Anyone who has ever watched the WWE's "Raw" on Monday nights has heard announcer Jim Ross use this phrase whenever a 'rassler comes to the ring to confront an adversary.
In the context of SEC football, the already demanding business of winning just rose to yet another level of difficulty with Arkansas' hiring of Bob Petrino.
In the big picture, Petrino isn't replacing Houston Nutt as the Razorbacks' coach. Instead, he's replacing former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron, adding yet another quality coach to the SEC landscape.
Think about it: With Nutt at Ole Miss, Petrino at Arkansas, and the recent progress of Kentucky and Mississippi State, this is the best overall group of SEC head coaches since the conference expanded and went to divisions in 1992. Even Duke recently tried to make a run at Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson, only to have Johnson reaffirm his commitment to the Commodores.
Spurrier, Saban, Brooks and Petrino all failed in the NFL, but who would you rather have coaching your team? Any of those four, or, say, Curley Hallman, Sparky Woods, Mike Shula, Rod Dowhower or Orgeron?
Now it's Petrino's turn. He did an excellent job at elevating
Petrino's name was also mentioned in connection with openings at LSU and
"We wanted to find a proven coach that has an established track record of success on the field, a coach that could bring innovative ideas and philosophies to both sides of the football," new Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said. "We wanted to find a coach that had won conference championships and, ideally, had competed and succeeded in the (BCS)."
Petrino is all that – and more, for better or worse.
Former coaches Frank Broyles, Ken Hatfield, Jack Crowe and Nutt all brought character to the program. Petrino is a notorious curmudgeon who makes Saban look like a sweetheart. Just wait until the Atlanta Journal-Constitution digs in and gets Falcons players and front office personnel talking about Petrino's cold, impersonal treatment, his disregard for effective communication, and his ugly tirades toward professionals of all levels within the organization.
Two Falcons starters – cornerback DeAngelo Hall and tight end Alge Crumpler – criticized Petrino publicly during the season. Other players did it off the record. The media had to tell Joey Harrington he had lost his starting quarterback job to Byron Leftwich. Petrino wouldn't do it.
Petrino is also the man who looked Falcons owner Arthur Blank in the face – twice in recent weeks – and promised he would remain the Falcons head coach, not just for the rest of the season but for the 2008 season as well. The second time he made that promise he was gone less than 24 hours later. Assistant coaches told media outlets that he met with them for about 15-20 seconds to tell them of his decision to leave the organization and then walked out of the room.
Unlike Nutt, Petrino won't be shaking hands and kissing babies at booster events and bounding off the field with hands raised. If he wins big, Razorbacks fans might be willing to turn a blind eye to his behavior. Petrino inherits a loyal, devoted, and passionate fan base that eventually might come to question his way of doing things. But, as we saw in Nutt's case, the only fans who really seem to matter at
Like him or not, Petrino's ability to coach just made the SEC landscape even more dangerous. Vandy isn't the pushover it once was (ask
There is no Duke, no
"Interesting," Tuberville told the AJC when informed of Petrino's move to
Richard Scott is a Birmingham-based sports writer, author, and Tiger Rag's SEC expert. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.