Louisville has fired football coach Bobby Petrino two days after the Cardinals lost their seventh game in a row to fall to 2-8.
Athletic director Vince Tyra announced the move Sunday, saying he "did not have the confidence" that Petrino could turn things around next season and that the change "needs to start happening now."
"We want to thank Bobby for guiding our football program to some of the better seasons we have had historically at UofL during his two separate tenures here," Tyra said in a statement. "However, at this time we feel the program needs different leadership and we owe it to our student-athletes and fans to get this turned around."
Louisville's season has bottomed out during a seven-game losing streak and a five-game stretch of ACC defeats by at least 18 points, including blowout losses to Clemson and Syracuse over the past two weeks. The Cardinals are averaging 21.7 points per game this season, lowest in the ACC. This comes after they led the conference in scoring each of the past two seasons.
"It was clear the players weren't responding," Tyra said at a Sunday afternoon news conference. "The coaches' and the players' efforts have to go in the right direction, but I didn't feel it was going that way."
Petrino's second stint at Louisville wasn't nearly as successful as the first, as the Cardinals lost at least four games in each of the past five seasons. He went 41-9 in four seasons at Louisville from 2003 to 2006 before leaving to coach the Atlanta Falcons for 10 games during the 2007 season.
Petrino coached Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson in 2016, but the teams of his second tenure were plagued by poor offensive line play and porous defenses. This season, the Cardinals have allowed 50 points or more in five of 10 games, including a 77-16 loss at Clemson on Nov. 3.
Regarded as one of the game's best offensive minds, Petrino returned to Louisville in January 2014 when former Cardinals athletic director Tom Jurich signed him to a seven-year contract that paid $3.5 million annually. According to the terms of his contract, the school owes Petrino more than $14 million in a buyout.
Tyra said a new coach would be chosen soon to "restore our football program to national prominence," and at his news conference later Sunday said he has "a list in mind," but did not reveal any details.
The Cardinals are expected to target Purdue's Jeff Brohm, a Louisville native and former Cardinals quarterback. Brohm, 47, guided the Boilermakers to a 7-6 record in his first season. They are 5-5 this season, including a 49-20 upset of then-No. 2 Ohio State on Oct. 20.
On April 26, Brohm signed a two-year contract extension with Purdue through the 2024 season that increased his compensation to $3.8 million in 2018. Brohm would owe the school $4.4 million if he takes another job before Dec. 5, and the buyout amount decreases by $1 million every year.
Brohm worked as a Louisville assistant from 2003 to 2008, serving as quarterbacks coach, assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. He went 30-10 in three seasons at Western Kentucky before leaving for Purdue.
When Jurich hired Petrino for a second time, he said the coach was a changed man and the right fit for the program. Arkansas fired Petrino in April 2012 for "a pattern of misleading behavior" in the wake of a motorcycle accident in which he revealed his passenger was a mistress.
"If it was the same Bobby that was here 10 years [ago], I wasn't interested," Jurich said at the time. "He is definitely a changed person."
Jurich was fired in October 2017 in the wake of the federal government's investigation into college basketball corruption, which centered on a pay-for-play scheme to send star recruit Brian Bowen Jr. to Louisville for $100,000.
Petrino leaves Louisville with a 77-35 record in his two stints at the school. This will be the first year that a Petrino-coached Cardinals team will not go to a bowl game.
He is 119-56 in his career with Louisville, Arkansas and Western Kentucky.
The Cardinals finish the season with home games against ranked teams NC State and Kentucky. Lorenzo Ward, associate head coach and secondary coach, will be the team's interim head coach for the final two games. In addition to Petrino, Louisville also let go of quarterbacks coach Nick Petrino, son of Bobby Petrino, and the team's linebackers coach and defensive line coach, who are Petrino's sons-in-law.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.