Sports Outside the Beltway

Bobby Petrino Hired by Atlanta Falcons

Bobby Petrino was lured away from Louisville by the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

Louisville coach Bobby Petrino has accepted a five-year, $24 million offer from the Atlanta Falcons to become their new coach.

“Bobby Petrino did a great job here at Louisville,” Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. “I’m proud of what he accomplished. I just wish we could have kept him longer. He will do a great job for the Falcons.”’s Pat Forde first reported the hiring and contract details earlier Sunday night.

Petrino met with his Louisville players Sunday night to let them know he was going to Atlanta. The Falcons scheduled a formal announcement for Monday at 2 p.m. ET.

Petrino said he was leaving for what “I truly feel is the best job in the National Football League.”

“I am excited about the challenge that awaits me in Atlanta, and I’m equally excited about the potential that I see in this team. I look forward to getting to know the players,” he said in a Falcons statement.

“This is an exciting day for the Atlanta Falcons franchise,” Falcons owner and CEO Arthur Blank said in the Atlanta release. “Bobby Petrino is an extremely talented football coach who has done some tremendously innovative things as both an offensive coordinator and head coach, and he brings to us a record of success at the collegiate and professional levels. There is no question that he has a sharp mind, he is demanding and disciplined, and he is a motivator and developer of players. In short, he’s a difference maker who will bring a strong identity to the Falcons — one our team will buy into and take on as their own.”

The Cardinals were trying to come to terms with their coach’s departure.

“I’m in shock right now,” Louisville kicker Arthur Carmody told ESPN’s Joe Schad Sunday night. “We’re coming off a great Orange Bowl win and we were all thinking national championship. I didn’t think this would happen. He said he enjoyed college football. He’s a great coach and we’re going to miss him.”

Before the season, Petrino signed a 10-year, $25 million contract. Petrino had previously interviewed with Auburn, LSU, Notre Dame and the Oakland Raiders for other jobs, but announced in August that he would be at Louisville for the long haul.

Since Nick Saban left the college for the NFL (before reversing himself Monday) Petrino was probably the hottest prospect, since most think Pete Carroll has learned his lesson and will stay at USC for life. It’s understandable that a coach, especially one in the relative backwaters of Conference USA, would feel he had no choice but to take a stab at the Big Leagues.

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