Lying in wait

. Wednesday, December 12, 2007
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On Monday night, Bobby Petrino was patrolling the sideline for the Atlanta Falcons in the Georgia Dome, coaching his team to a 34-14 drubbing by the New Orleans Saints and pushing the Falcons to 3-10 on the season.

On Tuesday night, Petrino was standing at a podium in Fayetteville, Arkansas to announce he had accepted an offer to fill the Razorbacks' vacant head coaching spot. He then proceeded to "call the hogs" with a bunch of rabid Arkansas fans and alumni.

Quite the interesting turn of events in just 24 hours, but for those who follow football, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

If these last few years have taught us anything, it's that you cannot trust College Football head coaches, who these days seem to change their mind and their job title more than Britney Spears changes wigs.

His acrimonious exit from Atlanta certainly brings up quite a few choice words that have been used on TV and radio over the last few hours to describe him - "gutless", "spineless" and "quitter" among them.

It's certainly hard to disagree. Petrino signed on to coach the Falcons for five seasons and didn't even get through one season before he bolted for greener pastures. For his troubles, he'll walk away with roughly $4 million of the Falcons' money. Not a bad deal at all.

Petrino isn't the first and he certainly won't be the last. Butch Davis, Steve Spurrier and most recently Nick Saban are just some of the coaches who have played the, "I'm happy here and do not want to coach anywhere else........ OK I LIED!" game over the past few seasons.

Saban, then coaching the Miami Dolphins, fervently denied any interest in the Alabama job and chastised reporters for thinking otherwise up until he was ready to sign the dotted line with the Crimson Tide.

This isn't even Petrino's first time on coaching carousel. Last year, he signed a 10-year contract extension with Louisville and said he had no interest in coaching in the NFL. Not long after saying that, he was being announced as the Atlanta Falcons head coach.

Last week, Petrino told Atlanta media that he planned to return to coach the Falcons for a second season.

These "hire-and-run" coaches shouldn't be a surprise these days, but just because it happens so much doesn't make it any less of a disgrace.

Great college coaches are great college coaches for a reason. Look no further than USC's Pete Carroll to see the reason why. They just relate to college athletes better than professional athletes. They are better suited to deal with the rigors of recruiting and helping shape young athletes into men as opposed to the rigors of dealing with multi-million dollar prima donna's and their agents. And some of them just flat out aren't good enough to make it in the NFL.

It works in rare cases, like Jimmy Johnson, who went from Miami (FL) to the Dallas Cowboys, where he won two Superbowls. The thirst for that success and the lure of big-money deals are the main reasons why these coaches have and most likely will continue to spurn their college jobs for high profile NFL coaching positions.

Coaches thinking of following Petrino's footsteps into the NFL need to realize that the grass usually isn't greener on the other side. Stay where you're at instead of leaving a college program and NFL team shattered and scrambling to find a coach in your wake, all so you can "find yourself" and realize what you really want to do.

With all that said, Arkansas has certainly pulled off the coup of the off-season. With a high profile job like Michigan open, the Razorbacks have gotten a coach in Petrino who is without question a fantastic college football coach.

Not to rain on your parade, Arkansas fans, but let's be honest - we've seen this before. We know how this movie ends and it's probably not going to be a happy ending if you're a Hog fan. I don't expect it to be very long before the lure of another opening catches Petrino's eye and he's all over ESPN "denying interest" up until the minute he's standing at his new school's podium.