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Sources: Arkansas exploring return of Bobby Petrino as OC

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Hogs' Pittman talks recruiting plans, NIL opportunities (2:41)

Sam Pittman looks ahead, discussing how recruiting has changed while saying that Arkansas will "fare well against anybody in the country" in its recruiting efforts. (2:41)

Arkansas is vetting the return of former coach Bobby Petrino as the school's offensive coordinator, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.

Petrino, 62, has been seriously considered by school officials, and a deal could come together in the near future. Sources told ESPN that Petrino has indicated in the recruiting space that he's in the mix for an SEC coordinator job, per ESPN sources.

An Arkansas spokesperson declined comment to ESPN.

Petrino's return would mark a spectacular full-circle moment, as he left Arkansas in 2012 after being fired in the wake of a scandal that saw him hire his lover and mislead his bosses about their relationship. That all came to light after a motorcycle accident, and the story rocked the college sports world and ended Petrino's career at Arkansas after he'd gone 21-5 the previous two seasons.

Over the past two decades, Petrino has developed a dual reputation as one of the sport's most gifted playcallers and someone who has found controversy at nearly every stop. Since his firing at Arkansas, he has worked at Western Kentucky, Louisville and Missouri State as the head coach.

He returned to the SEC West in 2023 as Jimbo Fisher's offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. Petrino's stay there proved benign, as sources said he avoided staff strife and the A&M offense played well, finishing No. 25 nationally in scoring.

Arkansas fired offensive coordinator Dan Enos in October, and the school made the decision to keep coach Sam Pittman after a 4-8 season that included a 1-7 record in the SEC. The school would have owed Pittman more than $16 million, and athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement that it wasn't the "season that any of us anticipated."

The allure of Petrino the tactician is undeniable. He coached Lamar Jackson in his Heisman Trophy-winning season in 2016 and has long been regarded as a high-end playcaller, as his final two seasons at Arkansas ended in trips to the Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl.

Petrino's off-field issues outside of his spiral at the end of his Arkansas tenure included a secret meeting with Auburn officials in 2003 that backfired when it was revealed publicly because coach Tommy Tuberville still had his job. Petrino quit his NFL head-coaching job with the Atlanta Falcons after 13 games to take the Arkansas job and left a note for the players in the locker room.

After his stint as head coach at Missouri State, he left for the offensive coordinator job at UNLV, only to leave for Texas A&M a few weeks later.