As Texas A&M’s offensive coordinator, Jimbo Fisher has hired Bobby Petrino, a highly regarded offensive coach who previously led Louisville and Arkansas.
Although sources told ESPN that Petrino will take over primary playcalling duties, Fisher will still be heavily involved in the Aggies’ offense. Fisher has always called his own plays on offense, making him one of the fewer head coaches to do so.
Texas A&M’s Aggies went 5-7 and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2008 in Fisher’s fifth season in charge.
Petrino most recently spent less than a month at UNLV after accepting the offensive coordinator position on Dec. 15 under new head coach Barry Odom. Petrino led Missouri State to FCS playoff appearances in two of his three previous seasons while serving as head coach. Missouri State hadn’t been to the playoffs in 30 years when Petrino took over.
After the Aggies’ disappointing 2022 campaign, which was marred by off-the-field issues and injuries, Fisher stated that he was open to giving up his role as play-caller and hiring an experienced offensive coordinator to call plays. This would allow Fisher to be more involved in all aspects of the program. Beginning in December, Fisher and Petrino discussed the Texas A&M offensive coordinator position, but nothing came of it. After Odom was hired, Petrino took the UNLV job later in the month.
Sources say Petrino told Odom on Wednesday that he was going to Texas A&M. Texas A&M is expected to make an official announcement soon.
Fisher frequently takes his time and doesn’t hire a coordinator until January. D.J. Durkin and Mike Elko, his final two defensive coordinators, were hired after the new year. ESPN was informed by sources that Fisher also spoke with TCU offensive coordinator Garrett Riley for this position.
Petrino, 61, has a lot of head coaching experience and has been successful in every college he has attended. As a college head coach, he has won 65.8% of his games, elevated Arkansas and Louisville to national relevance for the first time in years, and coached Lamar Jackson to the Heisman Trophy.
However, he has also encountered controversy, most notably at Arkansas, where he was fired in April 2012 for lying to school officials about a motorcycle accident while riding with a female football staffer Petrino had hired and with whom he was having an affair. The previous season, the Hogs finished as the No. 1 team and won 11 games, including the Cotton Bowl. 5 in the most recent AP poll In 2010, they participated in the Sugar Bowl and won ten games.
“Unfortunately, I will always get to carry that with me, how it ended there,” Petrino told ESPN last summer. “I hurt a lot of people and let a lot of people down.”
Fisher, whose Aggies finished the previous season ranked 101st nationally and next to last in the league in scoring offense, found Petrino’s SEC experience particularly appealing. At a time when defense dominated the SEC, Arkansas’ offenses ranked second in the league in 2010 (36.5 points per game) and first in 2011 (36.8 points per game). SEC teams had seven of the top 30 national scoring defenses in 2011. Petrino has also called his own plays as a head coach, like Fisher.
Additionally, he coached the Atlanta Falcons for a portion of the 2007 season before accepting the Arkansas coaching position with three games remaining. At the time of Petrino’s abrupt departure, the Falcons were 3-10. Including a few promotions, this will be Petrino’s 19th coaching position in total.
Petrino takes over an offense at Texas A&M that only scored more than 24 points twice last season against FBS opponents. After starting the last three games in 2022 as a true freshman, quarterback Conner Weigman returns. After leading the team in receiving, true freshman receiver Evan Stewart returns. Additionally, the Aggies hope to bring back a number of offensive linemen whose injuries in 2022 ended the season.