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Petrino was never up to the job

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Petrino was never up to the job

By Jeff Schultz | Tuesday, December 11, 2007, 08:13 PM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jeff Schultz

Editor s note: Commenting on this column will be opened on Wednesday morning.

He lost his quarterback. But Bobby Petrino didn t quit because he lost Michael Vick.

He lost players to knee injuries, ankle injuries injuries because the JetSki went one way and his defensive tackle s leg went the other. But Bobby Petrino didn t quit because the Falcons roster was decimated.

Bobby Petrino quit because being an NFL coach isn t just about Xs and Os. It s about all of those things Petrino didn t want to handle and clearly wasn t equipped to handle. Salary cap issues. Players egos. The most basic form of communication.

Bobby Petrino quit because he couldn t handle almost anything.

Michael Vick lied to Arthur Blank. Bobby Petrino lied to Arthur Blank. The second guy didn t break any laws, but the two are closer than we could have imagined in the character department.

Petrino is a quitter. Thirteen games and he is checking out for a job back in the college ranks, where he can mold young men by stepping on them first, which is something you can t do in the NFL.

Nick Saban couldn t handle it either. Hey, at least Nick Saban lasted two seasons. By comparison, Nick Saban is a martyr.

Thirteen games. Are you kidding?

When Blank s head stops spinning after all he has endured this season, he should breathe a sigh of relief. He should get past the fact he has to find another coach. Get past the fact that the franchise he would open a vein for has hit bottom and will take some time to turn around.

Arthur: Get past all of that, because things probably just got better. Save the balance on the five-year, $24 million contract you gave Petrino. Find yourself a coach who won t melt down every time the temperature rises above 78.

If football is the ultimate game of physical and mental toughness, Petrino turned out to be the ultimate mushhead. This is the NFL. This is Big Boy football. The Falcons already have too many players who stomp their feet and hold their breath. The last thing they needed was a coach who did the same thing.

Petrino said the Falcons were his dream job. He said he wanted to work for Blank and Rich McKay. He said he wanted one season to see what he could do with Vick.

Things didn t go as planned. Obviously. Petrino didn t win. That wasn t really his fault, given circumstances. But there were so many warning signs about how he handled situations, you wondered how he would function in the NFL environment, even without the extreme issues.

He rarely communicated with his players. He didn t seek any input from the veterans he inherited and while it s certainly his prerogative as a head coach to do as he pleases, constructing such walls is counter-productive for a coach trying to build unity.

Petrino didn t tell players when they were being benched, or why. Some found out when they got to the stadium on game day. Joey Harrington found out from reporters in a news conference that he might not start at quarterback that week.

Say what you want about Harrington no professional athlete deserves to be humiliated like that. No man deserves to be treated like that.

Bobby Petrino. Not a man. He is running like a coward.

It has been apparent all season that Petrino and McKay were on different pages in personnel issues (Why make Ovie Mughelli the league s highest-paid fullback if he s not going to be used?)

Most of all, he had lost the team. That was never more apparent than in Monday night s game against New Orleans. Hall walked into the Georgia Dome carrying a sign, and Roddy White wore a T-shirt, both reading, Free Michael Vick. Once you got past the vitriol directed toward Hall and White, you had to ask yourself: Would any player have done that if they liked, respected or even feared their coach?

Petrino took exception last week when I asked him about the possibility of leaving the Falcons for a college job (I was giving him the benefit of the doubt, and figured he would wait until after the season).

My plans are to be here, there s no question about that, he said. I get asked the same question every day, and that s my plan.

And now his plan is taking him to Arkansas. At least 13 games covers a full college season.

The Falcons now have one less quitter to worry about.

Good riddance.

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