Paul Petrino, whose prolific offenses consistently are among the nation’s best, was introduced Monday as the new head football coach of the University of Idaho Vandals – and he’s happy to be here.
“I’m very excited,” Petrino said. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve wanted to be a head coach my whole life. I had a chance to come back out to the Northwest.”
Petrino, an assistant at Idaho from 1992-94, embodies the qualities President M. Duane Nellis and Director of Athletics Rob Spear sought in hiring a coach to lead the Vandals.
“Paul has coached college football at the highest level and brings the coaching experience, energy, toughness and commitment to developing the entire student-athlete at the University of Idaho,” Spear said. “He has an outstanding coaching pedigree and is known as one of most creative offensive minds in the country, which will bring an exciting brand of football to the University of Idaho.”
Nellis said the qualities Petrino brings echo the qualities the University of Idaho represents.
"I'm excited about the selection of coach Petrino and look forward to future successes as he develops the Vandal football program," Nellis said. "The University of Idaho is a national land-grant research institution known for its education and research successes.
“However, we see football and other athletic programs as an important aspect of development of athlete scholars and as the ‘front porch’ for many others to visit us. Because of that, the hiring of a new football coach of high caliber who will make a strong commitment to our university, community and state is an important step."
For Petrino, the return to Moscow is a return to his Northwest roots. A native of Butte, Mont., and raised in Helena, he is a graduate of Carroll College where he was a two-time All-American quarterback and the NAIA Division II Player of the Year. With Petrino under center from 1985-88, the Saints were 36-6 and won four Frontier Conference titles.
He has parlayed that same success as a player to success with his offenses – and it’s what he wants to deliver to Idaho fans.
“I look forward to getting back, getting the Vandal Family all excited and fired up,” he said. “We want to score a whole bunch of points, be explosive on offense and hit that quarterback on defense. We want to win a whole bunch of games and go to bowls.”
Petrino’s coaching career began at his alma mater before he was hired at Idaho in 1992. Among the players he coached at Idaho was All-American and Vandal Athletics Hall of Famer Sherriden May – one on what has become a lengthy list of standout players, record-holders and NFL draftees coached by Petrino.
After his stint at Idaho, he coached at Utah State, Louisville, Illinois, Southern Mississippi and, most recently, Arkansas. He also spent one season with the NFL Atlanta Falcons. Everywhere he has been, his offenses have produced record-setting numbers . (See chronological biography for details).
He and his wife, Maya, have three children – two daughters, Ava and Anne Mari, and a son, Mason. Anne Mari and Mason are twins.