Yes, I am a Louisville Cardinal sports fan. I have been for almost all of my life. It's only natural that I would have some sort of opinion on the Cardinals hiring Bobby Petrino to coach the football team again. How do I feel about that? Well, I'll be honest, because that's all I ever am.
I like it and I'm not ashamed to say I like it for mostly football reasons. I like watching the team win games and that's my primary focus as a fan. It's also the primary focus of most fans, because most fans of a college program didn't get their education at that school. They have no stake in the reputation of the university. The stake most of us have is in the amount of time and money we put into following our favorite team. Louisville is going into the toughest division in the ACC with Florida State and Clemson. This program is bigger than it was just a year ago. It's not every day you get to hire someone that has the kind of experience that Petrino does when it comes to winning games against big competition.
The reason that this is even worth writing about is because there is an angle to this hiring that goes beyond wins and loses for a lot of people. Some Louisville fans and fans of other programs that compete with Louisville think it's terrible that Petrino got another chance. I don't. Why? Because the best athletic director in the country seems to have the best interest in his heart, not only for the university, but for people. Oh, and winning....make no mistake about that. This is also about wins and losses. That said, Tom Jurich has been a guy that isn't scared to give people a second chance. As a human being I find that supremely important. If nothing else, we are all flawed creatures and if it were not for the dozens of second chances I have been given by family, friends, employers, and mentors in my life there is no telling where I'd be. Most of us grow as we age because we have been through times where we were not up to snuff, which is to say the standards of those who love us and even more importantly, our own standards in many cases. We grow because we gain knowledge and insight from situations that test our ability to rise up from dark, difficult, or unhealthy places.
This hire is more about Tom Jurich than it is Bobby Petrino. Jurich has put himself out there. This is on him. If Petrino screws him, it's just a snake being a snake and the guy that gets bit is the fool. If Petrino doesn't come through and make the most of this opportunity then Jurich will be held accountable by his employers, employees, and supporters of the program. Nothing is shameful or disgusting about grace. In sports there is nothing shameful or disgraceful about wanting to win. Sports is character building? Your damn right. And nothing has the potential to build character like having yours revealed and then, hopefully, having to evaluate who you are. Some learn and become people of substance and value. Others don't and life can be difficult as they never find a place of peace in their life.
I don't know Bobby Petrino and I'm fairly confident that anyone reading this blog doesn't know him personally either. I do know he's a human being though. I know he has a family. I know he has friends. And I certainly know that if he has people sticking up for him (former players, his children, the employer that he pissed off royally) that are close to him, then he must be a person worthy of salvage.
Not one of us can throw a stone at Bobby Petrino. Let each one of us put our darkest secrets on the table for others to see. Let each one of us put our worst deeds on the table for others to see. Let each one of us put our transgressions against friends and family on the table for others to see. Do you feel me yet? Thing is, most of us don't have our mistakes posted all over the paper and ESPN do we? So we get a bit of a pass because we don't have hundreds of thousands of people (or millions) knowing exactly what you have done. We have the balls to pass judgment on others for their deeds and want to deny them their right to move on. That's less human than anything Bobby Petrino, Bruce Pearl, Jimmy The Greek, Pete Rose, John Calipari, Tiger Woods, Rick Pitino, or any other of a myriad of public sports figures have done. For some reason, we don't want to give benefit of the doubt to public figures. We want to see them hurt. I've certainly been guilty, but as many of you know....that isn't me these days, or at least I'm trying for it not to be. Ups and downs, ups and downs.
The bottom line for me is that Bobby Petrino is a football coach. He has never been investigated for cheating and he has won. He may not have been the type of person you want your daughter to marry or even the kind of person you want as a friend, but he has done his job. I don't "like" what he has done in his personal life any more than anyone else, but it's not my place to judge him any more harshly than those who know him best.
I am not making a case to change any one's mind about how they feel about Bobby Petrino. I am making the case for human understanding and seeing the bigger picture. And I will take it another step before I close this out;
Have any of you cheated on your spouse?
Have any of you had your spouse cheat on you?
Have any of you ever lied to your employer?
Have any of you ever lied to a friend?
Have any of you ever had a friend lie to you?
Have any of you ever taken advantage of having an upper hand at some point in your life?
Have you ever been treated badly by people you love?
Have you ever treated people you love badly?
Have any of you ever been given a shot at redeeming yourself by someone that has grace and your best interest at heart? Have you ever given grace to those that have wronged you? If the answer is yes, congratulations....you are winning the game.
When it comes right down to it and you strip away the unimportant window dressing of sports or any other form of entertainment, we are all human beings. We are capable of redemption. I find that more uplifting and motivating than I do seeing someone scorned and punished for being what each of us are; human beings that make mistakes, but are also capable of turning it around. A big part of turning it around is the grace and support of those around you. Without them, you would be an island and life isn't worth living if we are not willing to allow each other to make mistakes and try to come back from them.
For now, the hiring of Bobby Petrino by Louisville is a football or sports story, but when all is said and done the story will be much more human, whether it turns out good or bad.
Oh and by the way....I can't see this picture;
without thinking of this;