5. Bobby Petrino (Falcons)
While compiling a 41-9 record in four seasons as head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, Bobby Petrino established himself as one of the top offensive minds in football. This led to colleges and NFL owners alike constantly doing their best to woo him away from the Big East school. It was a general consensus that the system he ran was best suited for the NFL, so he would be a slam dunk as the head coach of a pro team. Apparently, Petrino agreed.
He signed on to coach the Atlanta Falcons in 2007, but things didn’t quite go as he had planned. Battling the loss of QB Michael Vick to prison, and a slew of injuries and other misfortunes, Petrino resigned just 13 games into the season. After leading the team to just a 3-10 record it’s not surprising that he wanted out, but the manner in which he left is what caused the most controversy.
According to Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Petrino told him in reference to the 2008 season, “You have a head coach.” Yet just 24 hours later, he submitted his resignation, hopped on a plane to Arkansas and signed a deal to become the Razorbacks coach. Falcons players learned the news when they watched him in his introductory press conference at Arkansas. The next day they found a letter in their lockers from Petrino trying to explain his departure. For your amusement, here is that letter:
Atlanta Falcons Players,
Out of my respect for you, I am letting you know that, with a heavy heart, I resigned today as the Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons. This decision was not easy but was made in the best interest of me and my family. While my desire would have been to finish out what has been a difficult season for us all, circumstances did not allow me to do so. I appreciate your hard work and wish you the best.
Sincerely, Bobby Petrino
It seems funny that he uses the word respect in the first sentence, yet seemed to lack any form of it in the way he chose to leave. While Petrino had few friends in the locker room, and there was actually a sense of relief he was gone, Blank and the Falcons players were pretty angry and felt betrayed by the sudden departure. The move caused safety Lawyer Milloy to say, “This league is for real men. I think he realized he didn't belong here,” and “The slap in the face was ultimately when he showed up at a 11 o'clock, or whatever time it was in Arkansas, doing the 'pig sooey' hog call.”