Jim's Notebook: Petrino Draws a Crowd, Doesn't Lower Season Expectations Despite OL Inexperience

by Jim Harris  on Monday, Jul. 18, 2011 2:52 pm  

Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino talks to media prior to a golf tournament in Little Rock on Monday. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Years ago, an investment advertising slogan said, "When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen." These days, when Bobby Petrino talks, the media listens. When he talks, the media comes out in full force. When he shows up in Little Rock for a 10-minute press conference, even the media based in and around Fayetteville make the nearly three-hour trek to the capital city to hear the Arkansas Razorback head football coach address various topics.

As one media member noted wryly and sarcastically, "We get so many opportunities to interview him."

Meaning: When the word comes from on high that Petrino is available, the sportswriters and telecasters are sure to show up even if they have to drive a few miles to do it. President Obama may have more availability. But, then, he didn't have as good a 2010 as did Petrino.

Many of the same media will get Petrino again Wednesday in Hoover, Ala., when the Southeastern Conference Media Days begin. And he and his assistant coaches, who also joined the head coach Monday in Little Rock, will be addressing the media again next when when the coaches hold their annual summer golf tournaments and put an end to their short break from football, less than a week before the Hogs hit the practice field Aug. 4. There won't be much different for Petrino to say between now and then, but rest assured it will be reported.

Still, a meeting room at Chenal Country Club was packed at mid-morning Monday with TV cameras, radio personalities and their tape recorders and many of the state's sportswriters, waiting for Petrino.

The head coach and several of his assistants were in Little Rock to participate in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame's celebrity golf tourney fund-raiser at the spectacular Chenal Bear Den Mountain course, and later Monday Petrino and his aides would be the featured attractions for a $150-per-person "Talking Football With Bobby Petrino" event at Chenal, also to raise money for the Sports Hall of Fame.

It's sort of that calm before the storm for the coaches and for the football-covering media. All that's happened around Arkansas football is the dismissal of one player, offensive tackle Anthony Oden, and the release of preseason magazines touted the Hogs' chances in the SEC and national polls.

Petrino had the perfect retort to a question about all the Razorbacks showing up on various "watch lists" this off-season: "I think there is a lot of watch lists."

He said football sports information director Zack Higbee is regularly sending him texts about the newest Hog to be nominated for some "watch list," and some turn out to be lists Petrino didn't kinow existed.

As for the 14 Razorbacks named All-Preseason SEC last week in a coaches vote, tops in the conference, Petrino said it showed the Hogs have a lot of experience and talent back. But he wasn't concerned about the number or how Arkansas ranked vs. the rest of the SEC.

"I don't sit there and count how many All-SEC players each team had," he said smiling.

The dismissal of veteran backup offensive tackle Anthony Oden, who was competing for a starting position, and the relative youth throughout the offensive line, including two newcomers also vying for tackle positions, did not deter Petrino's enthusiasm for the coming season.



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