Illinois hiring Paul Petrino as offensive coordinator

Illinois hiring Paul Petrino as offensive coordinator

CHAMPAIGN – Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino will take the same position at Illinois as early as today, a source told The News-Gazette on Sunday.

Petrino, the brother of Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, ran an offense ranked eighth in the nation in scoring, 10th in passing and 14th in total yards.

Illinois coach Ron Zook could not be reached for comment.

Arkansas starter and former Michigan quarterback Ryan Mallett has thrown for 3,422 yards and 29 touchdowns this season. He has one more game to pile on more statistics, with the Razorbacks playing East Carolina in the Jan. 2 Liberty Bowl.

Petrino reportedly turned down a chance to become Western Kentucky's head coach. He was also in the running for the coaching position at Marshall.

Petrino is in his second year at Arkansas. Before that, he served on his brother's staffs at Louisville and with the Atlanta Falcons.

The Montana native, a son of a college coach, has also worked at Idaho, Utah State and Southern Mississippi. Currently listed as Arkansas' offensive coordinator/receivers coach, Petrino has been a quarterback and running backs coach.

According to published reports, Petrino made $308,000 this season with the Razorbacks. He is expected to get a sizable raise to the join the Illini, who are coming off a 3-9 season.

Petrino fills one of the three openings on the offensive staff. The remaining positions could start to be filled later in the week. Petrino is expected to have input in the offensive staff hires.

Illinois released four coaches on Friday: offensive coordinator Mike Schultz, receivers coach Jim Pry, quarterbacks coach Kurt Beathard and special teams coach Mike Woodford.

The personable Petrino will be asked to help fix an offense that struggled scoring points early in the season. The Illini were shut out by Ohio State. Illinois is ranked 50th nationally in total offense, 82nd in scoring offense and 89th in passing offense. In the first seven games, Illinois was held to 17 points or less six times.

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blmillini wrote on December 13, 2009 at 4:12 pm

If it is true, sounds like a good hire. Any chance we save any of the defections that would certainly fit into his type offense?

We still won't be worth a darn unless we get a top notch DC.

Maybe there is hope for Zook yet... Can he keep his hands out of things?

Mattk wrote on December 13, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Wonder if this might do anything to convince Benn to return? A pro-style offense built around him could be good for his stock.

cretis12 wrote on December 13, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Ok, remember Petrino will have to score 50+ points a game because he is keeping Disch and Mallory on staff.

Groundhogday wrote on December 13, 2009 at 5:12 pm

So we are going to pay Bobby Petrino's little brother half a million when he has never been an OC on his own? Bobby calls the plays for Arkansas, not Paul. He might well turn out to be a great OC, but there is certainly some risk involved here.

The question is: how long is his contract? If we have to fire Zook next year because we give up 40 points/game and have another losing season, then do we eat long-term contracts for both Zook and Petrino?

dave1956 wrote on December 13, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Maybe bobby will join his brother Paul at Illinois in 2011 after we fire Zook after next year.

Maybe its a pakage deal.

jimbo2009 wrote on December 13, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Too late to really get very excited about any OC or DC hires. With a lame duck HC does any of this really matter? Not to me! There have been too many sports writer turning out glowing reports from Camp Rantoul, to recruiting classes, to "all that talent" we have, and on and on. Come Saturday afternoons the truth is exposed.

Martin09 wrote on December 13, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Another Guenther Coup.Ron, nobody believes that you have even the slighest idea what you are doing at this point.Too late.No legacy for you.

bernies wrote on December 13, 2009 at 6:12 pm

This reminds me a lot of last year's hire of Mike Schultz. TCU had a high powered offense, so Illinois "stole" TCU's offensive coordinator. TCU still has a high powered offense, and the Illini have fired Schultz.

Arkansas has a high powered offense too, but does Paul Petrino really run it, or does big brother Bobby call the shots?

toddalan1975 wrote on December 13, 2009 at 8:12 pm

wow its amazing how alot of you think you have all the answers! Especially you Jimbo! Zook isnt a lame duck. There hasnt been anyone that has been able to bring in the talent that zook has. The talent is still here and next year could be a good year if we get the right people and I would say Paul Petrino would be a start in the right direction. It is my understanding that zook is going to give up some control on defense as well and let whoever they bring in just do his thing on D , not to mention we will have martez and miami back and hardeman! Guys try having faith and quit being negative all the time. As for you fans that b#tch and complain and say " i am not going to renew my tickets " I say to you GOOD! We need true fans there not crybaby whiners!

Groundhogday wrote on December 13, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Hardeman has used up his eligiblity, Miami is a long shot with two major knee surgeries. Yes we have Martez back, the only question is what position he will play since he has never shown much aptitude for LB. Perhaps he will bulk up a bit and become a rush end?

Martin09 wrote on December 13, 2009 at 8:12 pm

I hope the fans do stick it out.I will.However I know that there wont be many of us and I understand.As long as Guenther remains as the AD,there is no trust.While technically Zook is not a lame duck,he is close as any BCS Coach might ever ever be.

ghosthunter wrote on December 13, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Zook SHOULD be a lame duck if he doesn't produce a bowl game next year. BUT, with Guenther he probably is not. To toddalan1975; it is great that " There hasnt been anyone that has been able to bring in the talent that zook has." Maybe you are right about this, but there have been plenty that have put up the same win-loss numbers that Zook has. So what does that say about his coaching?

Groundhogday wrote on December 13, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Guenther is probably gone next year, and with his retirement goes Zooks protection.

toddalan1975 wrote on December 13, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Hey I agree that his coaching hasnt always been that good, but just 2 years ago we got to the rose bowl! Everyone was worried about keeping him then, now just 2 years later alot of you want him gone! Just don't make sense to keep changing coaches every 5 years. All I am saying is with the schedule next year it wont matter who the head coach is, they need to start getting more winnable games, esp to start the season. I think zook is gonna back off play calling and let his new oc and dc do their jobs and if the right people come in i think we can have a good year next year. I am just tired of all the moaning and groaning, it makes illini fans look like babies and spoiled brats!

some people are complaining about recruiting this year, i ask you guys this, what do you think it says to a recruit, when all the fans do is complain and then not show up to games? Kids want to go where there is fan support and full stadiums! If you guys want to blame someone for recruiting falling off the next couple of years, blame yourselves for not showig up and being babies!

discoflash wrote on December 13, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Bobby Petrino calls the plays at Arkansas. Paul Petrino is probably a great OC if he had the confidence in himeself to turn down a HC job. I think this could be a Jimbo Fisher type of deal where he could be the HC in a couple of years.

Illini1973 wrote on December 13, 2009 at 10:12 pm
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Now that we're thin at receiver Martez will go to the offense.

Groundhogday wrote on December 14, 2009 at 12:12 am


Recruiting has gone south because of our horrible performances on the field, and because Zook has done such a poor job of player development. Attendance was actually quite good until the last game in December. And I doubt very much that message boards influence recruiting to any significant extent. Just win baby, or go home.

dave1956 wrote on December 14, 2009 at 12:12 am

The only saving grace of ron Zook was that he was able to recruit. You cant say that anymore. players are de-commiting left and right with Gallik being the latest. Can the defections of Cooper and Easterley be very far behind?

Plus we havent had any new commitments since Adam and Eve bit the apple.

No way we sign 20 for this class.Nobody wants to get on board of a sinking ship like Illinois.

FloridaIllini wrote on December 14, 2009 at 5:12 am

Let's hope that his brother's sleazy value system isn't part of the family! Something isn't adding up on this hire. Why is he leaving his brother? Why would he come to Illinois with it's reputation? Money? That's it! Money talks and usually draws in those with the lowest of values.

RPeterE wrote on December 14, 2009 at 7:12 am

After Illini dismal season and coaching brouhaha recruiting is going to be tough. It's telling Gallik after this season and past week's events choose to cancel his visit to Illinois and instead visit Boston College. Zook can't keep his recruits or even players already on the team. LAME DUCK coach, so who can blame those young players who have to think about their own future. Illini football was just doomed to at least 3 more seasons of futility by Guenther. One more lame duck season by Zook and then new coach will be 2-3 years behind in recruiting good players.

Martin09 wrote on December 14, 2009 at 8:12 am

Does it make any difference who our coordinatrs are?ZOOK and Guenther have a track record,that speaks to futility.Right.Guenther is 71-126-2.If you throw out the September cupcakes,we do not have 50 meaningful wins during his tenure.What could be more revealing?Zook has proved both at Illinois and Florida that he is not and should not be a head coach.

tonyjb37 wrote on December 14, 2009 at 9:12 am
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we are still gonna suck, until kooky zooky is gone.

BleacherBum wrote on December 14, 2009 at 11:12 am

With Petrino's hiring are we going to see some kind of variation of the Wild Hog, utilizing Eddie McGee or possibly Arrelious Benn, if he returns? Call it the Tomahawk. I would hope that inserting Eddie in there would confuse defenses, or at least give the opponent's something else to scout, prepare and defense against in game situations. I say the spread is dead--at least I hope so. Insert a fullback in there so someone can do for Leshoure and Co. what Russ Weil did for Rashard Mendenhall. Go to a pro-set offense and cook up some gadget plays to throw the defense off balance once in a while.

mustwhiz wrote on December 14, 2009 at 11:12 am

We all have an interest in seeing the ILLINI do well in all sports....that's what fans do. I for one respect the opinion of everyone to express their view, frustration, etc. Unfortunely, this comment section has become a haven for certain chronic whiners who can find fault with anything and everything EVEN after victories.If you don't want to support the ILLINI as a result of your feelings, just do it....don't tell us about it. Just a hunch...I have a feeling you will be the first in line when things return to your liking. It's called ATTITUDE!!!!

MyTurn2Raze wrote on December 14, 2009 at 12:12 pm

terrible hire

the option first shotgun spread was working with Locksley at the helm. Schultz playcalled horribly, but the scheme still worked. Now, the Illini are bringing in a guy who will try to run a passing spread that was the rage 7 years ago with players not equipped to do it. It just keeps getting worse in Champaign.

krklb79 wrote on December 14, 2009 at 12:12 pm

BleacherBum has came up with the BEST post yet. Leshoure may not be Mendenhall, but he is a splitting image of him. You can only run the option so much out of the shotgun. Whether our QB is Eddie, Jacob, or Nathan. We need something other than the Spread option we have been running.

OrangeBlewAndU wrote on December 14, 2009 at 3:12 pm

It's doubtful that "Coach" Guenther wants to "protect" Ron Zook as head coach at Illi-noise, as the latter pronounced it at his introductory press conference. It's simply a matter of dollars and sense.

Razorbacks wrote on December 14, 2009 at 3:12 pm

I think reason he moved was to get out from under his brother's wings. Bobby calls the plays for Arkansas so to get respect he needed to be a head coach someday he needed to go to a place where he was the play caller. He was a good recruiter of florida and developed the wide receivers tremendously. Getting 170k more a year never hurts either. If you dont want him we would gladly take him back.

MyTurn2Raze wrote on December 14, 2009 at 3:12 pm

LOL that Illinois is too cheap to buy out Zook, but will be forking over significantly more money for 2010 assistants... Guenther looks sillier with every passing day

toddalan1975 wrote on December 14, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Simon Cvijanovic is our latest commitment, just happen today or yesterday, he is ol from ohio! oh groundhogday since hardeman came in the 2008 class i dont see how he used up his time? He came in the same class as charest and company.

To myturn- do you even watch football or understand what goes on? This is a great hire and noooo razorbacks you cant have him back! The guys coming in with him for qb's and i think rb's are also gonna be great hires. I can only hope we get a defensive guy with as much experience and know how and as razor pointed out petrino can recruit, esp northern florida and some other states in the south, that also is huge! Lets hope the DC is the same type of guy with regards to recruiting and lets also hope he comes in and changes the defense!

one last point to groundhog...these pages do affect recruiting. Recruits looks at sites like this and read what thei fans say because they want to know what we think. Recruits look up all they can on schools and look at different things. If it makes you feel better thinking the way you do then just go on ahead thinking that way. I would and most ILLINI fans would rather you just keep your opinion off of public pages like this. If all your going to do is be critical then do us all a favor and shut up or become a fan of another school and complain about their moves on their public pages! If you have the time take a few seconds and read mustwizs' post, I suspect you are a fan like he describes and will be right back on the bandwagon next year if we win eating your words!?!?!

bernies wrote on December 14, 2009 at 10:12 pm

mustwhiz said:

"We all have an interest in seeing the ILLINI do well in all sports....that's what fans do. I for one respect the opinion of everyone to express their view, frustration, etc. Unfortunely, this comment section has become a haven for certain chronic whiners who can find fault with anything and everything EVEN after victories."

I've read fan blogs and news article comments for many schools. Many of the comments I've seen are no different than what we see in Illini forums. It's just the nature of the beast.