Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino was fired on Sunday. The dismissal of Petrino comes after a 2-8 start by the Cardinals this season. Petrino will not finish out the year as the team’s head coach, as athletic director Vince Tyra has appointed Lorenzo Ward as the team's interim coach for the final two games. Petrino first took over as Louisville’s head coach in 2003 and recorded four consecutive seasons of at least nine victories. He left to be the Falcons’ head coach in 2007 but returned to the college ranks a year later at Arkansas. Petrino was fired after an offseason incident at Arkansas prior to the 2012 season. After a year away, Petrino guided WKU to an 8-4 record in 2013 and was hired again at Louisville in ’14. The Cardinals recorded four consecutive seasons of at least eight wins but slumped to 2-8 this fall.
Who could replace Petrino at Louisville? Here are six names to watch:
Louisville Football: 6 Coaching Candidates to Replace Bobby Petrino
Jeff Brohm, Head Coach, Purdue
Brohm has to be the top candidate for this job. He’s a native of Louisville and played with the Cardinals from 1989-93. He also worked as an assistant with the program from 2003-08. Brohm took over as WKU’s head coach in 2014 and went 30-10 in three seasons. Under Brohm's watch, the Hilltoppers won back-to-back Conference USA titles and finished No. 24 in the 2015 Associated Press poll. Brohm has brought marked improvement to Purdue in his two years at the helm. The Boilermakers finished 7-6 last season and are 5-5 through 10 games in 2018.
Neal Brown, Head Coach, Troy
Brown’s name is likely to come up throughout the offseason in connection with Power 5 jobs. The Kentucky native worked as an assistant at Troy, Texas Tech and Kentucky before landing the top spot with the Trojans. He’s 33-15 through four years at Troy, including 21 victories from 2016-17. Brown also has a strong track record of developing successful offenses. If the Trojans win out in 2018, Brown will have recorded three consecutive years of double-digit victories.
Ryan Day, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Ohio State
Day’s stock is on the rise after a stint as Ohio State’s interim head coach for the first three games of the 2018 season. He joined the staff prior to the 2017 campaign to share the co-coordinator role on offense with Kevin Wilson and coach quarterbacks. The Buckeyes led the Big Ten in scoring in 2017 and own the top spot once again in ’18 (40.6 ppg). Prior to Ohio State, Day worked in the NFL with the Eagles and 49ers under Chip Kelly and had stints as a college assistant at Temple (2006 and 2012) and Boston College (2007-11 and 2013-14).
Chip Long, Offensive Coordinator, Notre Dame
Long doesn’t have any head coaching experience, but he’s an assistant on the rise due to his last two years at Notre Dame. Under Long’s direction, the Fighting Irish averaged 34.2 points a game and have increased that total to 34.5 in ’18. He also has stops on his resume as an assistant from Memphis (2016), Arizona State (2012-15) and Illinois (2010-11).
Mike Norvell, Head Coach, Memphis
Norvell is one of the top Group of 5 coaches on the rise. After gaining experience as an assistant at Tulsa, Pitt and Arizona State under Todd Graham, Norvell took over as Memphis’ head coach prior to the 2016 season. Norvell has guided the Tigers to a 24-12 record in that span, including an American Athletic Conference West Division title in 2017.
Brent Venables, Defensive Coordinator, Clemson
Venables makes over $2 million a season to be Clemson’s defensive coordinator, so it would take the right job for him to leave Death Valley. The Kansas native started his coaching career at Kansas State in 1996 and stayed with the program for three years, leaving for Bob Stoops’ staff at Oklahoma in 1999. Venables coordinated the Sooners’ defense from 1999-11, departing for Clemson prior to the 2012 season. Venables has never been a head coach, but he’s one of the top assistant coaches in the nation and consistently builds elite defenses for the Tigers.