John Clay's notes: No space for Petrino on coaching carousel

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistDecember 5, 2012 

Arkansas LSU Football

Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino looks before an NCAA college football game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La., Friday, Nov. 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

BILL HABER — AP

Random notes:

■ As for Bobby Petrino, we now know it wasn't just Mitch Barnhart.

It appears that not a single school with an open head coaching position is going to give the former Louisville and Arkansas coach a second thought, much less a second chance.

Coaches beware: Getting your unqualified mistress or ex-mistress a job in the football office apparently carries more than a one-year suspension (in effect) from any head coaching job.

■ Even if Kentucky doesn't get Neal Brown as offensive coordinator, let's applaud the effort.

The former UK wide receiver was the architect of the nation's No. 2 passing offense this season at Texas Tech. New UK coach Mark Stoops is believed to have Brown high on his list.

But now it appears so does Southern Miss and maybe Arkansas State, who may want the 32-year-old Brown to fill their vacant head coaching jobs. Can't blame Brown if he wants to hear what they have to say.

■ Not sure what Tom Jurich did to deserve the treatment he gets from his football coaches.

Jurich gave Bobby Petrino and Charlie Strong their first head coaching jobs. He rescued John L. Smith from Utah State. Smith left for Michigan State at halftime of a bowl game. Petrino signed a long-term contract, then skipped off to the Atlanta Falcons.

Now, a few days after Jurich got Louisville into the ACC, Strong rained on the Cards' Sugar Bowl parade by complaining about crowd support and clumsily answering questions about whether he would be U of L's coach next year.

Strong is reportedly considering an offer from Tennessee while Jurich is trying to counter-offer.

■ I like Arkansas' hire of Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema. Little out of the box since Bielema is a Midwest guy. But he has head coaching experience and no doubt is anxious to prove he can do it outside the watchful eye of Barry Alvarez.

■ Bielema's exit from the Big Ten champs to tackle a mid-level SEC program that went 4-8 this season shows the difference between the two conferences.

■ Auburn's hire of Gus Malzahn benefits the Tigers in that, after just one year at Arkansas State, he returns to the program he left, so he knows the personnel. He's also an offense-oriented guy, which should help an attack that was putrid this season. But the jury is out on how well Malzahn will do as an SEC head coach.

■ You could say the same thing about UK's hire of Mark Stoops. But given the circumstances, I'll take Stoops over either of the other SEC hires. He has more upside, and he's a good fit for the program — an up-and-comer who will work hard to succeed at his first crack at being a head coach. Were I in Mitch Barnhart's shoes, Stoops is exactly the type of candidate I would have hired.

■ If Strong takes the Tennessee job, that would mean the Sun Belt champ (Arkansas State), the Big Ten champ (Wisconsin) and the Big East champ (Louisville) all lost their head coaches to the SEC.

■ The ACC champ (Florida State) lost its defensive coordinator to the SEC.

■ Poor Pittsburgh. Are the Panthers really going to lose another coach after one season? Could be, if former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst returns to replace Bielema.

■ Though Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and Florida's Will Muschamp have basically split SEC Coach of the Year honors, I voted for Vandy's James Franklin. Any Vanderbilt coach that can win five conference games gets my vote.

■ Did you see where Kent State Coach Darrell Hazell was hired by Purdue. Hazell was the only FBS coach who lost to Kentucky this season. But then only one other team, Northern Illinois, beat Kent State in 2012.

■ One basketball note: John Calipari stuck to the "we must be out of shape" script so faithfully after UK's second-half letdown against Samford on Tuesday night, that you felt certain that any question that was asked was going to get the same response.

Even when sometimes his team seems a little unfocused, Cal is always locked in.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. E-mail: jclay@herald-leader.com. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv.

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