MOSCOW, Idaho – Paul Petrino, whose prolific offenses consistently are among the nation’s best, was introduced on Dec. 3, 2012 as the 33rd head football coach of the University of Idaho Vandals – and he’s happy to be here.
“I’m very excited,” Petrino said. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve wanted to be a head coach my whole life. I had a chance to come back out to the Northwest.”
Petrino, an assistant at Idaho from 1992-94, embodies the qualities President M. Duane Nellis and Director of Athletics Rob Spear sought in hiring a coach to lead the Vandals.
“Paul has coached college football at the highest level and brings the coaching experience, energy, toughness and commitment to developing the entire student-athlete at the University of Idaho,” Spear said. “He has an outstanding coaching pedigree and is known as one of most creative offensive minds in the country, which will bring an exciting brand of football to the University of Idaho.”
Nellis said the qualities Petrino brings echo the qualities the University of Idaho represents.
"I'm excited about the selection of coach Petrino and look forward to future successes as he develops the Vandal football program," Nellis said. "The University of Idaho is a national land-grant research institution known for its education and research successes.
“However, we see football and other athletic programs as an important aspect of development of athlete scholars and as the ‘front porch’ for many others to visit us. Because of that, the hiring of a new football coach of high caliber who will make a strong commitment to our university, community and state is an important step."
For Petrino, the return to Moscow is a return to his Northwest roots. A native of Butte, Mont., and raised in Helena, he is a graduate of Carroll College where he was a two-time All-American quarterback and the NAIA Division II Player of the Year. With Petrino under center from 1985-88, the Saints were 36-6 and won four Frontier Conference titles.
He has parlayed that same success as a player to success with his offenses – and it’s what he wants to deliver to Idaho fans.
“I look forward to getting back, getting the Vandal Family all excited and fired up,” he said. “We want to score a whole bunch of points, be explosive on offense and hit that quarterback on defense. We want to win a whole bunch of games and go to bowls.”
Petrino’s coaching career began at his alma mater before he was hired at Idaho in 1992. Among the players he coached at Idaho was All-American and Vandal Athletics Hall of Famer Sherriden May – one on what has become a lengthy list of standout players, record-holders and NFL draftees coached by Petrino.
After his stint at Idaho, he coached at Utah State, Louisville, Illinois, Southern Mississippi and, most recently, Arkansas. He also spent one season with the NFL Atlanta Falcons. Everywhere he has been, his offenses have produced record-setting numbers . (See chronological biography for details).
He and his wife, Maya, have three children – two daughters, Ava and Anne Mari, and a son, Mason. Anne Mari and Mason are twins.
2012 – Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks, Arkansas
2010-11 – Offensive coordinator/receivers, Illinois
2008-09 – Offensive coordinator/receivers, Arkansas
2007 – Receivers, Atlanta Falcons
2003-06 – Offensive coordinators/receivers, Louisville
2000-02 – Quarterbacks, Southern Mississippi
1998-99 – Receivers, Louisville
1995-97 – Receivers, special teams, Utah State
1992-94 – Running backs, receivers, special teams, Idaho
1990-91 – Offensive coordinator, quarterbacks, Carroll College
- Petrino coached five offensive players at Illinois and Arkansas who were drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft – which included four wide receivers, the most by any coach in the nation.
- Petrino’s Arkansas wide receivers tied a draft record by having three from the same school selected in the same draft in 2012.
- Petrino coached quarterback Tyler Wilson in 2012, who wrapped up his career with 28 Arkansas records. Wilson also led the SEC and ranked ninth in the NCAA in passing yards per game, while receiver Cobi Hamilton led the SEC and ranked fifth in the NCAA in receiving yards per game.
- Petrino coached Arkansas in its 29-16 win vs. No. 11 Kansas State in the 2012 AT&T Cotton Bowl. The Razorbacks totaled 345 yards of total offense in that game, including 216 yards passing from the bowl’s Offensive MVP Tyler Wilson.
- In 2011, Petrino coached A.J. Jenkins to one of the best seasons by a receiver in Illinois history. Jenkins led the Big Ten with 90 catches and added 1,276 receiving yards, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors and coming up just two shy of the Illini record. Jenkins also ranked in the top five in Illinois history in six single-season and career categories.
- At Illinois, Petrino’s offense broke school records for total points (423) and points per game (32.54) in 2010.
- Petrino’s offense led Illinois to a 38-14 win over Baylor in the 2010 Texas Bowl.
- Illinois’ offense in 2010 featured running back Mikel Leshoure, who broke the single-season school rushing record with 1,697 yards in 2010.
- As offensive coordinator at Arkansas in 2009, Petrino’s Razorback offense averaged 37 points per game, which ranked eighth in the NCAA, 303.3 passing yards per game, which ranked 10th, and 439.3 yards of total offense per game, which ranked 14th.
- Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett was the nation’s sixth-rated passer, averaging 285 yards per game with 29 touchdowns in 2009.
- Petrino’s Arkansas offenses broke the school record for passing yards in two consecutive seasons (2008 and 2009) and finished with 3,640 passing yards in 2009.
- Petrino spent the 2007 season as the receivers coach for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, when Roddy White posted then-career-highs of 83 catches and 1,202 yards.
- As offensive coordinator at Louisville from 2003-06, Petrino’s teams averaged 41.1 points per game, one of two teams in the country (Texas Tech being the other) to rank in the top 10 nationally in total offense during those years.
- In 50 games during his second tenure at Louisville, Petrino’s teams went 41-9, with two one-loss seasons and two national top-10 finishes. The 2006 Cardinals went 12-1 and finished the year ranked No. 6, while the 2004 team went 11-1, finished the year ranked No. 7 and led the country in both total offense with 539.0 yards per game, and scoring offense, with 49.8 points per game.
- From 2000-02, Petrino coached the quarterbacks at Southern Mississippi, helping the Golden Eagles to 21 wins and two bowl berths in three seasons.
- In his first stint at Louisville from 1998-99, Petrino coached receivers for the Cardinals, and UL ranked No. 1 in the nation in passing offense in 1998, and No. 2 in 1999. The Cardinals also set records for points, scoring average, touchdowns, passing yards, passing touchdowns, pass attempts, pass completions and total offense in 1998.
- Petrino was receivers and special teams coach at Utah State from 1995-97, and Aggies’ receiver Kevin Alexander was second in the nation in receptions and third in yards.
- In his first stint at Idaho from 1992-94, he coached receivers, running backs and special teams. Among the running backs he coached was All-American Sherriden May, who led I-AA players with 150 points and rushed for 1,111 yards.
- Petrino began his coaching career as quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Carroll College in 1990.
- As quarterback of Carroll College from 1985-88, the Saints won four Frontier Conference championships. He set 16 school records, earned Kodak All-America honors, and was the Football Gazette NAIA Division II Player of the Year in 1988. Carroll went 36-6 in his four seasons.