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             === Dorm Report: Petrino gets a fresh start at WKU ===
 
 By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - For someone who has been a collegiate head
 coach for just eight seasons, Bobby Petrino's resume' is pretty spotless,
 logging a 75-26 record with seven bowl appearances.
 
 "Quite simply, the name Bobby Petrino is synonymous with consistent success at
 the highest level," Western Kentucky Director of Athletics Todd Stewart said
 of his latest head coaching hire.
 
 Yet despite his brilliant football mind, Petrino has been the center of
 controversy more times than he'd like to admit. After winning the 2006 Orange
 Bowl while at Louisville, he left to take the head coaching job with the
 Atlanta Falcons, only to resign before the end of his first and only NFL
 season. Then, after building Arkansas into an 11-win program in 2011, he was
 fired following a scandal in April of 2012.
 
 Petrino's legacy was left tarnished as he went without a job during the 2012
 campaign, but WKU soon found itself in need of a new leader when Willie
 Taggart accepted the head coaching position at South Florida.
 
 While the Petrino hire comes with its share of red flags, the marriage
 actually has very little risk and seems to be a win-win for both sides. WKU is
 a marginal program in the Sun Belt, the lowest-profile conference in the FBS,
 and a big splash like Petrino can only improve its brand and national
 recognition, especially with regard to recruiting.
 
 As for Petrino himself, he gets to start fresh from the bottom, proving his
 worth as a coach while mending his relationship with the NCAA. The school has
 covered its tracks as well with the historically unreliable coach, as Petrino
 is obligated to pay back part of his salary if he leaves at any time during
 his four-year contract.
 
 It's not often coaches in this profession get a second chance, let alone a
 third, and Petrino seems to be eager to show that he is serious in building
 WKU into a mid-major powerhouse.
 
 "My vision for Western Kentucky University's football program is to take it to
 the next level," Petrino said. "We need to consistently, every year, go to a
 bowl game. We need to win a conference championship, we need to every single
 year. We need to get in a position where we are ranked in the Top-25 and get
 in a position where we can compete to be in a BCS bowl game. That is where we
 see our program going."
 
 "When you look at the Boise State's of the world and the teams that have been
 able to do that, that is our expectation," he continued. "That is where we
 feel we have the opportunity to go."
 
 When it comes down to it, all of Petrino's past misgivings will be forgiven if
 he can deliver on his promises, and that starts with implementing his
 signature fast-paced, high-powered offensive attack. While the talent level at
 WKU is certainly a step below what he had to work with at both Louisville and
 Arkansas, there are definitely elements in place to allow Petrino's transition
 to be somewhat smoother.
 
 Petrino knows how to utilize a talented running back, as he showed with likes
 of Michael Bush, Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson in the past, and the
 Hilltoppers have one of the top rushers in the nation in Antonio Andrews.
 Andrews is a dynamic, multi-talented back capable of hurting opposing defenses
 in several ways. Not only did he rush for 1,684 yards and 11 touchdowns a
 season ago, but when combining his receiving and return totals, he tallied an
 astounding 3,161 all-purpose yards, which was the second-highest total in FBS
 single-season history behind only Barry Sanders' 1988 campaign. With Petrino's
 magic touch, the sky is the limit for Andrews in 2013.
 
 Things are less certain under center, however. With Kawaun Jakes (2,488 yards,
 22 TDs, 11 INTs) graduating, there are big shoes to fill at quarterback. There
 has been an open competition to determine the team's new signal caller, and
 while nothing is official yet, it appears as though junior Brandon Doughty has
 the inside track, with Petrino admitting that he has been quicker to pick up
 the offense than Damarcus Smith and James Mauro.
 
 "Brandon has had the better spring when you combine everything together,"
 Petrino said. "He has run the offense better. He understands it. He is very
 coachable. He knows where the progression is, and he has a good idea about
 what the coverages are."
 
 Whomever gets the starting nod, he will have the luxury of dumping the ball
 off to Andrews, who caught 37 passes for 432 yards a year ago. Willie McNeal
 (43 rec, 556 yards, six TDs) also returns as a viable outside threat.
 
 A major reason the Hilltoppers became bowl-eligible a year ago was because of
 their strong defense, which was one of the best in the Sun Belt in terms of
 both scoring (25.5 ppg) and yardage (346.6 ypg). The unit is expected to be
 even better this season with the return of two of the league's top defensive
 playmakers in linebacker Andrew Jackson (122 tackles, 17.5 TFL, four FFs) and
 cornerback Jonathan Dowling (68 tackles, six INTs).
 
 Even though Petrino's ultimate goal of making a Boise State-like splash on the
 major college football landscape may be a bit of a stretch this year, WKU
 still has more than enough talent to make waves in the Sun Belt, especially if
 the quarterback can quickly get a grasp of Petrino's system and limit his
 mistakes. Given the weakened state of the conference and Petrino's past
 success rate, anything less than a Sun Belt title for the Hilltoppers will be
 a disappointment.
 
 Now it's up to Petrino to show that WKU's decision to bring him on board was a
 smart one.
 
 
 
 07/15 10:59:55 ET

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