Petrino Named Offensive Coordinator
Dec. 14, 2009
University of Illinois head football coach Ron Zook announced the hiring of Paul Petrino, former Arkansas offensive coordinator, to serve in the same capacity for the Fighting Illini. Petrino brings with him 18 years of collegiate experience and an impressive offensive background, which includes national top-10 rankings in scoring and total offense.
"I am extremely pleased about this hire," Zook said. "Paul is a young, talented offensive mind, who has had great success at every step in his career. He has proven himself with great offensive numbers and rankings, but what makes him most impressive is his ability to develop players and the strong relationships he has forged along the way. His offense is exciting and fun, both for the players and for the fans at Memorial Stadium."
"It has been an honor to help guide a new path at the University of Arkansas and I will always be grateful to my brother, Bobby, Athletic Director Jeff Long and the entire Razorback community for the opportunity I was given," Petrino said. "But now it is time to take on a new challenge, and I look forward to helping Coach Zook take the Fighting Illini back to the Rose Bowl and compete for national championships. This is an incredible opportunity for my family and our work in Champaign is underway."
Last season, Arkansas averaged 37 points per game, which ranked eighth in the NCAA, while also posting top-15 rankings in passing offense at No. 10 (303.3 ypg) and total offense at No. 14 (439.3 ypg). Razorbacks' quarterback Ryan Mallet was the nation¹s sixth-rated passer, averaging 285 yards per contest and throwing 29 touchdown passes. UA also had two receivers average over 60 yards a game, helping lead the squad to a Liberty Bowl bid. The Razorbacks broke the school record for passing yards with 3,640, eclipsing the previous record that was set under Petrino in 2008. The 2008 season also saw Arkansas produce its ninth 1,000-yard rusher in the history of the program when Michael Smith recorded 1,072 yards.
Petrino coached at Louisville from 2003-06 and in 2007 with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League. He was the receivers coach in Atlanta after working the four previous years as offensive coordinator and receivers coach at Louisville. Playing for Petrino in Atlanta, Roddy White enjoyed the best season of his NFL career with 83 catches for 1,202 yards.
His teams at Louisville averaged 41.1 points per game over his four seasons--34.6 in 2003, 49.8 in 2004, 43.3 in 2005 and 37.8 in 2006. While he was at Louisville, the Cardinals and Texas Tech were the only two schools in the nation to rank in the top 10 nationally in total offense for four straight seasons (2003-06). In 50 games at Louisville, Petrino's teams went 41-9 and scored 40 or more points 28 times, 50 or more 14 times and 60 or more seven times.
In 2006, when the Cardinals went 12-1, won the Big East Conference title, beat No. 12 Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl and finished the year ranked No. 6 in the nation, Louisville was second in the country in total offense (475.3 ypg), seventh in passing (290.0 ypg) and fourth in scoring (37.8 ppg). One of his players, Harry Douglas, recorded 70 receptions and set a school record with 1,265 yards in earning first-team All-Big East honors.
In 2005, Louisville (9-3) was ninth in the nation in offense (482.1) and third in scoring (43.4 ppg) with six offensive players earning first-team all-conference honors. Running back Michael Bush led the nation with 24 touchdowns, while receiver Joshua Tinch was a first-team All-Big East selection and receiver Mario Urrutia was second in the nation in yards per catch.
The 2004 team, which won the Conference USA title, beat No. 10 Boise State in the Liberty Bowl, 44-40, finished 11-1, ended the year ranked No. 7 in the nation, led the nation in total offense (539.0 ypg) and scoring offense (49.8 ppg), and set an NCAA record by scoring 55 or more points in five straight games.
The Cardinals set school records for total yards, rushing yards and points in a season (597) in 2004 also scoring 50 or more points seven times. Receiver J.R. Russell earned all-conference honors for the second straight-season after catching 73 passes. Russell had 75 receptions for a school-record 1,213 yards in 2003, when the Cardinals went 9-4.
Petrino began his coaching career as the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at his alma mater, Carroll College, in his hometown of Helena, Mont. He worked for his father, Bob, Sr., at Carroll in 1990 and 1991.
He coached at Idaho for the next three years (1992-94), where he tutored receivers (1993-94), running backs (1992) and special teams. As running backs coach in '92, he coached Sherriden May, who earned All-America honors and led all I-AA players with 150 points scored while rushing for 1,111 yards.
He moved to Utah State for the next three seasons (1995-97) as receivers coach and special teams coordinator. In '95, receiver Kevin Alexander finished second in the nation in receptions and third in receiving yards.
In 1998, Petrino went to Louisville for two years in his first stint on the Cardinal staff. In 1998, with older brother Bobby coaching quarterbacks and Paul coaching receivers, UL set records for points (473), scoring average (39.4), touchdowns, passing yards, passing touchdowns, pass attempts, completions and total offense.
As receivers coach and special teams coordinator, Petrino led Louisville to 7-5 finishes in 1998 and '99, and earned bowl bids both seasons. Under Petrino's watch, Arnold Jackson had 90 catches for 1,165 yards in '98 and 101 receptions for 1,209 yards in '99. Petrino coached three wide receivers who set single-season yardage records at Louisville. Jackson totaled 1,209 yards in 1999, Russell broke the record in 2003 with 1,213 yards and Douglas set the record in 2006 with 1,265 yards.
From 2000-02, he was the quarterbacks coach at Southern Mississippi. In his three seasons, the Golden Eagles went 8-4, 6-5 and 7-6 with two bowl bids.
Born in Butte, Mont., on May 25, 1967, Petrino was a four-year starter at quarterback for his father at Carroll College from 1985-88. He set 16 school records, earned Kodak All-America honors and was named the Football Gazette NAIA Division II Player of the Year as a senior. In Petrino's four seasons, Carroll was 36-6 and won four Frontier Conference titles. He was an all-conference and all-region selection all four years and was a two-time All-American.
Petrino and his wife, Maya, have two daughters, Anne Mari and Ava, and a son, Mason. Anne Mari and Mason are twins.