If there is anyone who knows Paul Petrino almost as well as he knows himself, it likely is Kris Cinkovich, who coached Petrino at Carroll College in late 1980s.
“That was as big a commitment as I’ve gotten,” said Petrino of his hiring of Cinkovich to coordinate the Vandal offense and coach the wide receivers. “That was huge.”
Not only have Cinkovich's teams and players garnered accolades for their achievements, he was recognized last February by 247sports.com as one of the top 50 recruiters in the country. Given his regional roots (he is a native of the Northwest), that is a huge plus, Petrino says.
“He has great ties out here,” said Petrino, who comes to Idaho from Arkansas after a successful stint as an assistant at UNLV. “I’m real excited to have him.”
His players have made impacts and set records everywhere he’s been.
In the 2012 NFL Draft, Arkansas receivers tied a draft record as for the 14th time in draft history, and third time by the SEC, a school had three different wide receivers selected in the same draft. Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs were all drafted in the fourth round, marking the sixth time in draft history a school had three receivers picked in the first four rounds.
Cinkovich tutored Cobi Hamilton to the best season by a wide receiver in Arkansas history and one of the top seasons ever put together in the SEC. Hamilton broke UA records for single-season receptions with 90, tied for third on the SEC’s single-season list and single-season receiving yards with 1,335, the fourth-highest total in SEC history, and career receptions with 175, taking down marks set a year earlier by Wright under Cinkovich’s guidance. Hamilton led the SEC and ranked fifth in the NCAA with his average of 111.25 receiving yards per game and topped the conference and tied for 12th in the country with an average of 7.50 catches per game. Hamilton also was the only player in the SEC and one of three in the nation with at least five games with 10 or more catches in 2012, becoming the first player in UA history with more than one game of 10 or more catches in a career.
During the 2011 season, Cinkovich again molded the UA receivers into one of the most dominant groups in the country. Arkansas led the SEC in passing offense (300.7), total offense (438.1) and scoring offense (36.8) to become just the fifth different school to lead the conference in all three categories in a single season and the first since Florida in 2001. The Razorbacks topped the conference in passing offense for the third straight season and became the second SEC team since 1992 to lead the conference in passing offense for at least three straight seasons. Arkansas was one of two schools to place two receivers in the top 10 in the SEC in receiving yards per game and receptions per game.
Wright earned first-team All-SEC accolades after he broke the UA single-season record for receptions (66), receiving yards (1,117) and touchdown receptions (12). He topped the conference and tied for seventh in the country in receiving touchdowns and led the SEC and ranked 18th in the NCAA with his average of 93.1 receiving yards per game, making him the first Razorback in school history to lead the SEC in that category. His 5.5 receptions-per-game average ranked second in the conference. Wright also broke Arkansas’ career receptions (168) and career receiving yards (2,934) records and left ranking second in school history in 100-yard receiving games (9) and receiving touchdowns (24).
Adams ranked second on Arkansas’ career receptions list with 164 and fourth in school history with 2,410 receiving yards, 17 touchdowns and seven 100-yard receiving games. He finished the 2011 season fourth in the SEC with his average of 4.2 receptions per game and eighth in the conference with an average of 50.2 receiving yards per game.
In 2010 during the Razorbacks’ campaign toward the school’s first BCS appearance, Cinkovich’s unit tied for the SEC lead with nine different games featuring a 100-yard receiver. UA was one of two schools in the conference to have four different receivers top 100 yards. Arkansas also was one of two schools in the SEC to have two receivers rank in the top 10 in the conference in receiving yards per game.
Before Arkansas, Cinkovich coached three of the top four all-time reception leaders in UNLV history. Ryan Wolfe finished his career ranked first in the UNLV record books with 283 receptions, a total that stood 12th all-time in NCAA history. Wolfe signed with the Atlanta Falcons after leaving the Rebels. Casey Flair was the second-leading receiver in school history with 202 receptions, and Earvin Johnson finished fourth with 183 receptions.
Cinkovich also assisted with a passing attack that ranked in the top 50 nationally in 2008 and 2009, accounting for 40 passing touchdowns. UNLV also led the nation in red zone production in 2008 (95 percent) and third-down efficiency in 2009 (46.39 percent).
During the 2006 season, Wolfe set several Mountain West Conference and UNLV freshman records while both Wolfe and Flair earned All-MWC honors. It was the first time since 1994 that a pair of Rebel receivers picked up all-conference accolades. Flair broke the school record for career receptions in 2007, only to be passed by Wolfe.
Cinkovich came to UNLV in 2003 from Las Vegas High School, where he oversaw the Wildcats for nine seasons and built one of the state’s top programs en route to compiling a record of 79-24. In 1995, he took LVHS to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years and in 2001 brought the school its first state championship since 1959.
Cinkovich’s squads won three regional titles and were ranked among the best on the west coast three times by USA TODAY. He was inducted into the Southern Nevada Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2004.
Cinkovich played collegiately at Spokane Falls Community College from 1979-80 and Carroll College from 1981-82 as an offensive lineman.
A 1984 graduate of Carroll College in Helena, Mont., Cinkovich earned his master’s degree from Central Washington in 1987. He and his wife, Joanie, have two daughters, Carly and Stephanie.