MOSCOW, Idaho – Paul Petrino has tasted success as a player and assistant coach at various levels and locales, from tiny Carroll College in Helena, Mont., to the Southeastern Conference at Arkansas.
Next on his list is to attempt a major reclamation project at Idaho, a school out of the national spotlight but one he’s familiar with.
Petrino, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arkansas and former Vandals assistant, has accepted an offer to become the next Idaho football coach. The hiring will be announced at 1:30 this afternoon at a news conference at the Litehouse Center in the Kibbie Dome.
Petrino, 45, replaces Robb Akey, who was fired on Oct. 21 after five-plus seasons. The Vandals went 1-11 this year and have had one winning season since 2000.
In addition to running the offense and coaching quarterbacks at Arkansas, Petrino has previously coached at Illinois, Louisville and with the Atlanta Falcons, among other stops. His offenses have finished in the top 10 nationally in scoring and total offenses.
This will be his first head coaching position.
The Butte, Mont., native and former standout quarterback at Carroll College was an offensive and special teams assistant at Idaho from 1992-1994 before moving on to Utah State. He’s the brother of former Arkansas and Falcons coach Bobby Petrino.
While at Idaho the first time, he coached under John L. Smith, who also was his boss this season at Arkansas. As offensive coordinator at Illinois, he led the Illini to school records in total points and points per game in 2010.
UI narrowed down a large list of candidates to five finalists last week. Petrino interviewed on Thursday and was offered the job on Friday, according to a source.
The other finalists were Wyoming defensive coordinator and former UI coach Chris Tormey, Central Washington coach Blaine Bennett, San Jose State offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren and Vandals interim coach Jason Gesser.
Gesser said on Wednesday that he was told he would get another interview, but that meeting never materialized, a source said. The Vandals offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach has said he would return to Moscow as an assistant next year under the new regime if he wasn’t selected as head coach.
Petrino made $475,000 at Arkansas this year, $100,000 more than Akey was set to earn before he was let go. Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said after firing Akey that the new coach would make roughly the same as his predecessor.
The Vandals will compete as a Football Bowl Subdivision independent next year after the WAC dissolved as a football league. Petrino becomes the sixth UI head coach since the school became an FBS (then NCAA Division 1-A) program in 1996.
CoachingSearch.com was the first to report the hire.