Mike Zimmer rips Bobby Petrino, Bobby Petrino backer rips Mike Zimmer, Anthony Stalter rips backer

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 07:  Head coach Bobby Petrino stands on the sidelines with Joey Harrington #13 of the Atlanta Falcons after taking him out of the game against the Tennessee Titans during their game at LP Field on October 7, 2007 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

I remember when Bobby Petrino ditched Louisville to join the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. The writers for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution briefly mentioned Petrino’s penchant for leaving teams in the dust for bigger and brighter opportunities, then they moved right into breaking down his offense and how he could transform Michael Vick into an elite quarterback.

Not too long after Petrino left Atlanta in the middle of the night to go “Call Hogs” in Arkansas, those same writers ripped him for being a coward. He kind of has that way about him.

When he’s on your side (no matter how briefly), you want to overlook his many weaknesses. But as soon as he shows you his true colors, you hope he never wins another game.

Mike Zimmer, who was the Falcons’ defensive coordinator in Atlanta when Petrino performed his disappearing act, had some not-so-nice things to say about his former boss in a recent interview.

“I never even was there,” said Zimmer. “When a coach quits in the middle of the year and ruins a bunch of people’s families and doesn’t have enough guts to at least finish out the year … I am not a part of that.

“You can put that in the Arkansas News-Gazette. I don’t really give a (hooey). I am serious. He is a coward. Put that in quotes.”

“Most people in football have enough courage about them and enough fight to stick through something and not quit halfway through the year. It is cowardly,” said Zimmer. “He came in and said he resigned, he would talk to us all at a later date, walked out of the office and no one has ever talked to him since. Not that anybody wanted to.

“He’s a gutless (expletive). Quote that. I don’t give a (hooey).”

If you’re abreast of the situation, then you know that Zimmer spoke the truth. But apparently at least one writer in Arkansas is still blinded by Petrino’s lore and took exception to Zimmer’s comments.

These are excerpts from an article by Jim Harris of ArkansasSports360.com in reference to Zimmer’s comments:

Zimmer said earlier this week that Petrino ruined lives when he abruptly left Atlanta for Arkansas with three games left in the 2007 season. Please.

Zimmer’s had a very difficult four years of his life, both on the field and off it. Some of it tragic. His parting with Petrino was not among the tragic occurrences, as Zimmer had a contract and also was able to find work with Cincinnati.

Lives were ruined by Hurricane Katrina. Lives are ruined daily in Haiti, in the aftermath of an earthquake and now a cholera epidemic in a country with no money.

Harris’ mention of how Zimmer has “had a very difficult four years of his life” is in reference to the defensive coordinator finding his wife Vikki dead in their home in the middle of the football season. And while Harris has a good point about Hurricane Katrina and Haiti, let’s not mince words here.

I’m willing to bet that Harris doesn’t know Zimmer personally, so how would he know if the situation ruined Zimmer’s life or not? Besides, isn’t Harris being a little too literal here? I’m sure Zimmer would say that Hurricane Katrina was a bigger deal than Petrino leaving Atlanta, but the situation still affected his life in a profound way. It essentially cost him his job with the Falcons and while he still wound up on his feet in Cincinnati a year later, that doesn’t mean that Harris has the right to downplay the situation and go with the standard “life is bigger than sports” anecdote that some writers use these days.

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