We have learned that Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino has been named the next head coach at Idaho.
Petrino, 45, is a native of Butte, Mont., and played at Carroll College in Montana. He has coaching stints at Carroll, Utah State and, most importantly, Idaho under his belt. Petrino has previously executed excavation efforts at Louisville, Illinois and Arkansas.
In 50 games at Louisville, Petrino’s offense scored 40 more points 28 times. His 2010 Illinois offense set a school record with 423 total points. And Petrino guided an Arkansas offense that set a school record with 3,640 passing yards in 2009.
Petrino has skins on the wall, there’s no question about that. But it’s all the other stuff he will have to attend to that will decide whether his tenure as Idaho’s head coach will be a successful one.
“I’m very excited,” Petrino said in the school’s press release. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve wanted to be a head coach my whole life. I had a chance to come back out to the Northwest.
“We want to score a whole bunch of points, be explosive on offense and hit that quarterback on defense,” Petrino continued. “We want to win a whole bunch of games and go to bowls.”
There might not be an FBS program with more uncertainty surrounding it at this moment than Idaho. With the WAC disintegrating its football arm, it is unknown at this time whether Idaho will compete as an FBS Independent in 2013. It is unknown at this time whether they will make their permanent home in the Sun Belt Conference, in the Football Championship Subdivision or as an FBS Independent. There are pros and cons to each option. All will present challenges for Petrino and his staff.
On the field, Petrino inherits a team fresh off a 1-11 season. Since reaching a program high point with a 43-42 win over Bowling Green in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl, the Vandals slipped to 6-7 in 2010 and 2-10 last season before going 1-11 in 2012. Idaho ranked 107th or lower in 12 of the 17 official statistics tracked by the NCAA. Their best statistic was net punting, where they placed 50th.
Needless to say, Petrino is going to have his work cut out for him on multiple fronts.