Bobby Petrino had a 77-35 record at the University of Louisville. During his second stint, he went 36-26, elevating the program with 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
However this year, he lost the team with a 2-8 record with recruits decommitting. Consequently, UofL fired Petrino. Let’s look at the top candidates for his replacement.
Jeff Brohm, Purdue
Brohm’s a Louisville native who played for the Cardinals. He’s shown the ability to win at Western Kentucky and Purdue with a huge win over Ohio State this year. Former quarterbacks Jim Harbaugh, Mark Richt and Scott Frost have returned to their alma maters with varying degrees of success. If he wants the job, it’s his. He has the most history at Louisville. He would recruit the area better than anyone, something Louisville lacked. He would infuse energy into a program suffering one of its worst seasons in years.
Ryan Day, Ohio State
Day is well-regarded in coaching circles. Particularly this year after he handled the turmoil at Ohio State in his three games as acting head coach. He brought the Buckeyes through a tough situation with the Urban Meyer scandals about as well as could have been expected. He has NFL experience as a quarterback coach. As the Louisville sports program has also been rocked by scandal, Day’s crisis management experience could lead the Cards back to the promised land.
Brent Venables, Clemson
Venables would be an excellent choice. He’s been at the center of national championship contenders. Venables built a top defense unit at Clemson, serving as coordinator since 2012 after 13 years at Oklahoma. Defense has plagued the Cardinals for the last two years since Louisville released Todd Grantham after the 2016 season. Venables knows the ACC well and has seen Louisville compete against his defense at a high level.
Charlie Strong, Southern Florida
Strong’s mojo worked for a while doubling back with Petrino. He compiled a 37-15 record from 2010-13. It’s not the worst fit, but would Strong want to come back? Strong had a vibrant run coaching the Cardinals four years this decade, leading Louisville to the 2013 Sugar Bowl. Strong’s kept the momentum going at USF. There’s no doubt he’s ready for a jump back to Power Five, but it would only happen at Louisville if, for some reason, Brohm says “no.” Strong recruited many Florida players, transforming UofL into a NFL football factory for several years. The city of Louisville would certainly welcome him back with open arms.
Chip Long, Notre Dame
At 35, Long is a fresh, new face on the scene and has ties to the program. He was a Louisville offensive graduate assistant under Brohm in 2006-07. Thus far this season, Long’s future looks bright. The pressure of coaching at a football powerhouse has him prepared for a Power Five team in Louisville. Long’s guided the quarterback situation to college football playoff level, while developing a pounding running game despite an offensive line which lost two All-Americans. The essential question is, would Louisville allow him to coach through the playoffs?