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Paul Petrino, Blaine Bennett to interview at Idaho

We now know the five finalists for the Idaho job. Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino and Central Washington coach Blaine Bennett will interview at UI over the next two days, The Spokesman-Review has learned.

Our story is below.


By Josh Wright

MOSCOW, Idaho — Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino and Central Washington's Blaine Bennett, two coaches with Idaho ties, will interview for the Vandals' head coaching job, The Spokesman-Review has learned.

Petrino and Bennett are two of five finalists for the vacant position. The other finalists — San Jose State offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren, Wyoming defensive coordinator Chris Tormey and UI interim coach Jason Gesser — have already met with Idaho or have interviews scheduled.

Petrino, the brother of former Arkansas and Atlanta Falcons coach Bobby Petrino, will meet with Idaho today, a source said. He ran the Razorbacks' offense this season under former Idaho coach John L. Smith and has previously coached at Illinois, Louisville and with the Falcons.

The Butte, Mont., native was a four-year starting quarterback at Carroll College for his father, Bobby Petrino Sr., and was an offensive and special teams assistant at Idaho from 1992-1994.

Bennett was a quarterback at Idaho in the mid 1980s and served as the Vandals' wide receivers coach in 1991. He was named Central Washington coach in 2008 after working as an assistant at Michigan State under Smith in 2006 and at Purdue from 2001-2005.

Bennett is 41-16 in five years at CWU, a NCAA Division II school in Ellensburg. He's scheduled to interview with Idaho athletic Rob Spear and the hiring committee on Friday.

Spear said he wanted a coach who understands and is able to recruit the Northwest. He also apparently wants someone with an Idaho background. Each finalist either played or has coached in Moscow.

Spear said after Saturday's season finale at Utah State that while UI had selected five finalists from a large pool of candidates, he also wanted to see what other coaches became available with schools making changes.

“I want to make sure we take a look out there to see what's going on,” he said.  

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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Josh Wright Josh Wright is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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