The frustration of an unknown Vandal football fan boiled over late Monday night, prompting the student to dump hundreds flyers across campus criticizing the current head coach.
While most students shake their head in exasperation or leave the Kibbie Dome during halftime of a blowout, a frustrated Vandal instead placed hundreds of flyers on university property demanding that football coach Paul Petrino be fired.
During a routine patrol Monday night, campus security noticed an abundance of leaflets outside the Idaho Commons and surrounding area. The leaflets contained a headline that screamed “FIRE PAUL PETRINO” and contained negative information regarding the head coach’s career. Included in the leaflet were Petrino’s overall record at Idaho (3-23) and the fact that Petrino vacated his coaching position with the Atlanta Falcons in the middle of a dismal 2007 season.
It took nearly four hours for the majority of the flyers to be removed by university employees. Despite their best efforts, not all of the leaflets were collected, and some students have reported seeing the flyers as late as Tuesday afternoon in the Idaho Commons and Bruce M. Pitman Center.
While the leaflet contains obscene language and grammatical errors, it does highlight several key controversies that have occurred on campus earlier this semester.
The first was a reference to a tense conversation with Petrino and several reporters in August, when he spoke to the media during a preseason practice. Petrino mentioned a report by Michael-Shawn Dugar of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News that criticized the Vandals passing attack, and asked if the reporters had seen improvement in this area. Dugar responded that they had seen more passes thrown in that particular practice, his response angering Petrino. He began shouting expletives at the reporters and had to be physically restrained by his coaching staff.
Following the incident, Petrino banned the media from Vandal football practices. Eventually USA Today and CBS picked up the story, thrusting the campus into the national spotlight.
The second reference was to an incident at the Vandal Store early in the semester, when several Vandal football players shoplifted over $300 worth of merchandise. As store employees became aware of the robbery, the coaching staff for the football team was contacted. The stolen merchandise was returned as police arrived on the scene to investigate the theft.
No charges were filed against the players because of the return of the merchandise, and University of Idaho officials have remained adamant that regular students would have also received the same treatment.
However, the student’s criticism stems from Petrino’s handling of the incident. The players involved in the theft, receiver Dezmon Epps and cornerback Isaiah Taylor, did not receive any discipline until video of the incident went public weeks later. Petrino then suspended the two players, but after they both had played in the season opener against Ohio University.
Petrino has had a checkered past, including a post-game incident early in his coaching career at Idaho following a 42-0 loss at Washington State. Cameras caught Petrino making a comment towards WSU head coach Mike Leach as the two shook hands. Leach looked to be taken aback, and the two began exchanging a heated conversation as they gestured back and forth.
The flyers have divided student opinion around campus as to Petrino’s job security. Some students have come out in support of the coach, while others agree with the criticisms of his career.
Kyle Hagen, a junior majoring in wildlife resources, said that he agrees with the flyers. “Our team struggles, and I personally think it starts with the head coach. Seems like they’re always the first to go when a team doesn’t succeed.”
On the other hand, some students have backed Petrino as the Vandals head coach. “I feel like it’s one thing to make a petition to fire someone,” began Keanna Hawk, an interior design major, “but to publically humiliate them like that is a little wrong.”
She also points out the unprofessional language of the flyers, and claims that the student doesn’t consider the implications that it might have for the coach’s life. “[The flyers] are just about the football team needing to be better,” she stated.
Petrino currently makes $390,000 a year as head coach of the Idaho Vandals due to a three-year contract that ends this season. While the university has not publically announced the search for another coach, the growing public opinion is that a new coach will be hired if the Vandals do not show drastic improvement this season.
The Vandals are 1-2 following a 41-38 victory over FCS opponent Wofford at home, and will face Georgia Southern this Saturday evening at the Kibbie Dome. The University of Idaho has not issued a comment regarding the incident, and the student involved in the distribution of flyers around campus remains unknown.