FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas Director of Athletics designee Jeff Long officially announced Bobby Petrino as the 30th coach in Razorback football history at a formal news conference Tuesday night. The following is a partial transcript of the press conference.
Chancellor John A. White: “Thank you all for coming out to be with us this evening. It’s a foggy, foggy night outside, but absolutely crystal clear in here. What a reception. Coach (Bobby Petrino) this is just the tip of the iceberg. You haven’t seen anything yet. You’ll recall that I indicated just a short time ago that I would be relying on Jeff Long to handle the search for the new football coach for the University of Arkansas. I indicated that he would be playing an advisory role for me. Jeff, why don’t you come on up and give me some advice?”
Director of Athletics designee Jeff Long: “Thank you everyone for joining us tonight for this very exciting announcement and important announcement for the Razorback Nation. When our search began for our next football coach on Monday, November 26, our objective was simply to find the best head football coach for the University of Arkansas. While I did not express at the time, publicly, the characteristics I was seeking in our next coach, we certainly had several key attributes and qualities we were looking for.
“We wanted to find a proven coach that has an established track record of success on the field, a coach that could bring innovative ideas and philosophies to both sides of the football. We wanted to find a coach that had won conference championships and, ideally, had competed and succeeded in the (Bowl Championship Series).
“But just as importantly, we wanted someone who had exhibited a strong commitment to discipline and accountability with their student-athletes, a coach that stressed the fundamental responsibility of student-athletes to achieve at the highest levels, academically and athletically, while maintaining exemplary citizenship.
“Today’s announcement is a culmination of a comprehensive search process, which was intended to identify a leader for our football program and would serve our student-athletes and fans with class and dignity. We were thorough in our search as we explored a diverse pool of candidates and I want to express my appreciation to Dr. (B. Alan) Sugg, Dr. (John A.) White, the members of the Board of Trustees and the Razorback Foundation Board as we progress through this search. The unwavering commitment of these people to helping us move forward with the best interest of the University of Arkansas at heart was crucial to the ultimate success of this search.
“I’m indebted to Coach (Frank) Broyles for his counsel, encouragement and support through the process. His 50 years of service and dedication to the University of Arkansas and the Razorback program has resulted in an unrivaled collection of facilities and a rich tradition of success.
“Our new coach is committed to building on this foundation while enhancing our success on and off the field. In our discussions, he has pledged to work with me and our academic staff to help our student-athletes increase their graduation rates and improve our (Academic Progress Rate) numbers.
“On the football field, he has developed a reputation for offensive innovations. He has a high-scoring offensive attack that has the ability to strike from anywhere, and at any time, on the field. His teams have consistently ranked among the nation’s leaders in total offense and scoring offense. The style of play his teams have demonstrated will invigorate from the kickoff to the final gun.
“I’m confident the Razorback fans will embrace this exciting brand of football. So without further delay, I’m pleased to introduce the 30th head football coach in the history of the Arkansas Razorbacks, Bobby Petrino.”
Razorback Football Head Coach Bobby Petrino: “Thank you very much, I appreciate it. It is a tremendous honor for me to be named the 30th head football coach here at the University of Arkansas, particularly on a night where we honored Coach (Frank) Broyles for his 50 years of service. He’s such a legend in the profession and I can’t wait to develop a relationship with him and I’m very much looking forward to that.
“I would like to thank Dr. (B. Alan) Sugg, Chancellor (John A.) White, and Jeff Long for giving me this opportunity to come to the Razorback Nation. I’m certainly fired up about that. I’m looking forward to working with Jeff and going forward with the new opportunities we have here and I can’t wait for that.
“I’d like to introduce my family to you: my wife, Becky; my youngest son, Bobby; my youngest daughter, Katie; and I also have two other children that could not make it here, my oldest daughter, Kelsey, who is attending the University of Louisville and my oldest son, Nick, who is a freshman in college also. They played a big part in the decision to come here and it’s certainly going to be exciting to make this our home.
“It was a day of decisions. It was difficult in one side and very easy on the other. It was very difficult to leave Atlanta and what we had started there, difficult to leave the staff, players and the fans. The timing of it was probably the thing that made it the most difficult. I certainly would have liked to have stayed and finished the season and have all that work out, but circumstances presented that this was what we had to do today and I couldn’t be more happy about it.
“It was easy to come here to the University of Arkansas and become the head coach. I am very excited about coming back to the (Southeastern Conference) which I consider the best football conference in the United States. It’s very easy to come to a university that has the facilities, the commitment and the passion to win a national championship. I can tell you one of the most attractive things about coming to the University of Arkansas is the fan base. A base that ranges all the way from Fayetteville to Little Rock to West Memphis and I’m excited about that, to be the main show. There’s no question.
“I look forward to getting out and recruiting. We definitely want to keep the best players from the state of Arkansas here at our university. I’m really looking forward to getting out and meeting the coaches, getting to establish our relationship, getting the staff in place and as soon as I pass the test—the recruiting test, I think Jeff is going to have me take it tonight—then we can get to work on that and we will definitely have a lot of fun recruiting.
“Football wise, I want to talk to you a little bit about our philosophy. First of all, offensively, we want to be very aggressive. What I like to do first is establish the fact that everybody expects to score every single time they take the field on offense. That is the expectation. I believe in a balanced attack. I do believe you have to be able to run the football when you want to, run the football when you have to. I believe you have to be able to throw the football when you want to, and throw the football when you have to. When you can do both, then you can definitely be the aggressor and that’s what I want.
“Defensively, we’re going to concentrate, first and foremost, on the sound principles of defense—being able to shed blocks, run full speed to the ball, tackle well and create turnovers. We want to be able to do that above and beyond scheme and be tremendously sound in scheme. In saying that, in defense, I believe it’s very important to stop the run, number one, and hit the quarterback, number two.
“Special teams wise, we want to base everything on speed. Our ability to be aggressive speed wise, be able to cover and be aggressive, get down the field and be great in our return game, so we’ll work tremendously hard on all three phases and then be aggressive in all three phases.
“I’m very proud to be your head coach. I can’t wait until I can run through the ‘A’ as the head coach at the University of Arkansas.”