Now that the initial shock has worn off and we as a fanbase have gotten to sit with this news for a little bit, I have a few more thoughts on what transpired yesterday. I won’t lie: I was initially very relieved when I heard, back in December, that Petrino was ostensibly headed to UNLV after having heard his name linked to the Texas A&M football program. He was not high on my personal list, but I obviously exercised zero influence over any part of this process.
That said, I really don’t think it’s the worst hire, purely football-wise. Most of the negatives come from off-the-field factors— but, as we’ve seen, things off the field can certainly bleed over onto the on-field product.
Petrino has had amazing offenses before. He was at the top of the SEC offensively during his tenure at Arkansas back when defense ruled the league. Afterwards, he coached Louisville and Lamar Jackson, notching quite a few high-level offenses there as well. However, though Petrino has had high-level offenses before, his final Louisville offense was quite poor, to say the least. He hasn’t exactly lit it up at Missouri State, either— though he did give Arkansas quite the run for their money. Of course, he’s not coming to the Texas A&M football program as the head coach— merely the offensive coordinator (a refrain that will be repeated several times here) and it’s possible that the ability to solely focus on offense will be a huge boon in that regard.
That same factor— being an OC rather than a head coach— also helps when it comes to the off-field issues. The man is not the face of the program. He’s not the main guy interacting with the players. He likely won’t even be a main recruiter (another reported weakness of his). He will just run and call the offense. I can see him excelling in that role.
Another thing I like, Xs and Os wise, is his philosophy of building his scheme and playcalling around the strengths of his players. From everything we’ve heard, that is diametrically opposed to the current head man of Texas A&M football: Jimbo believes in his scheme to a fault (and not without reason, necessarily— he’s got an answer to everything in there), often leading to friction when players were unable to execute the complicated schemes contained within. An offensive mind that understands the strengths of the personnel and caters to those has been sorely needed these last few years.
Now, make no mistake: this is a risky hire. It could definitely completely blow up in A&M’s face. It’s a well-known fact that Petrino is loyal to no one and is not necessarily beloved by those who have played for him. But having him as part of the staff as opposed to running said staff is a pertinent and important distinction, and one that is a legitimate reason for hope. But Jimbo has to know that this is his last best shot, and he elected to bring this guy in. It had to be obvious that it would raise some eyebrows, and it certainly has done so. But this all only adds to the anticipation for when the Aggies kick off against New Mexico this September. Until then, this is all just speculation.