Fayetteville (NWAOnline.com) - If you had any doubt Bobby Petrino was an elite college football coach, there should be little doubt now.
The third-year Arkansas coach has the Razorbacks in a BCS bowl for the first time in school history. In doing so, Petrino – who won the Orange Bowl at Louisville in 2006 – joins Nick Saban (LSU, Alabama) and Urban Meyer (Utah, Florida) as the only coaches to earn BCS bids with two different programs.
"We know a lot about Coach Petrino because he was up this direction at Louisville and had some fabulous football teams," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Sunday. "He did some extraordinary things in the Big East. We know the quality of that."
Year three has become the bar for coaches to get their program to a BCS bowl. Saban (LSU, Alabama), Meyer (Florida), Les Miles (LSU), Mark Richt (Georgia) and Gene Chizik (Auburn) are coaches who have done so during that time frame at SEC schools.
Meyer, Tressel and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops won the national championship in their second year at their respective schools. This year's national championship game features two second-year coaches in Chizik and Oregon's Chip Kelly.
While Arkansas has yet to make it to that level, the Razorbacks were one of the best teams in a conference that perennially puts its champion in the national title game. That bodes well for the future as long as Petrino stays at the school. The UA must lock the coach into a long-term deal following the season – or even perhaps before the bowl game – as other schools are sure to be intrigued by the Razorbacks' success.
It's a testament to the improvement made under the current coaching staff and the quality of leadership it has. From 5-7 to 8-5, to 10-2, Petrino and his staff have proven their worth and ability in the right time.