by Chris Bahn
Posted 12/30/2009 08:45 am
Not once during his two years at Arkansas has Petrino come across as brash or mouthy like Tennessee's first year coach. Petrino - if memory serves - hasn't made a comment that was an obvious attempt at intentionally getting under another coach's skin.
So it was a bit surprising to see that a recent Petrino comment on the health of Florida coach Urban Meyer was being portrayed online as something it was not. Petrino didn't seem to be goading Meyer when he ended a lengthy answer to a question with by saying: "I'm not sure why he has so much stress because he ought to be on this side, where you're battling every week to win a game."
Within 24 hours of delivering that statement about Meyer, a coach with a 95-18 record and two national titles in nine seasons, Petrino was receiving moderate criticism online. One Memphis-based writer tweeted that Petrino was "crass" and another posted a blog entitled "Petrino Zings Meyer".
Context is important here.
Petrino delivered the statement at the end of an open and honest assessment of his own self-inflicted stress/bad habits. It was an unusually candid few moments for Petrino, who spoke about the dangers of long hours and over-caffeinating as he - get this - sipped from a cup of coffee.
Consider too that Petrino saw his defensive coordinator, Willy Robinson, hauled from the football complex in an ambulance earlier this season. Robinson missed a game while hospitalized with an infection.
All the while Petrino complimented Meyer and wished him well.
Here's the text of Petrino's comment:
"When I saw this come up about Urban, the first thing I thought about is that I'm happy I'm healthy, that I have a great job at a great school. I can really relate to it, because we had (defensive coordinator) Willy Robinson go down this year. We carted him out of the training room to an ambulance to the hospital. It was very, very scary.
"We don't sleep enough as football coaches. We drink too much coffee, as I sit up here and drink coffee. We don't take care of our bodies as we should.
"I just hope Urban is going to be alright. He's a great football coach and has done an excellent job at Florida. I'm not sure why he has so much stress, because he ought to be on this side where you're battling every week to win a game."
It seems unlikely Petrino was trying to show up Meyer. Most likely Petrino was trying - albeit awkwardly - to lighten the mood in the midst of an unusually heavy discussion for a football bowl game press conference.