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Paul Petrino’s Outburst Mirrors Idaho’s Frustrations

Let’s face it, Idaho football has been terrible for a long while. Instability with coaching and in finding a strong conference has put the Vandals among the worst programs in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

USA Today ranked Idaho 127th out of all 128 FBS teams this season. Only Charlotte – entering its first year as a FBS program – is ranked behind the Vandals.

So it’s not that surprising to me that head coach Paul Petrino would show some frustration over his program’s failure to be a winning program. But it is surprising that he would take that frustration out by intimidating and verbally berating a reporter.

Petrino – yes, that’s Bobby Petrino’s brother – went after a reporter with the Moscow-Pullman Daily News after a practice on Wednesday. According to Daily News reporter and sports editor Michael-Shawn Dugar, Petrino shouted expletives at him and another reporter after practice, criticizing the coverage that the local papers have been giving the team during summer camp.

However, Petrino apologized for the outburst in a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, but after saying that he wasn’t restrained by the assistant during the tirade.

“I did not approach the reporter nor did I at any time threaten the reporter physically or verbally,” Petrino said. “Yesterday, I reacted poorly to what I believed to be unfair criticism directed at our players and our program. I allowed my passion for the program and our players to spill over into a conversation with Mr. Dugar in which I used an unprofessional tone. I apologize for my language and looking back, I wish that I had handled it differently.”

Petrino has only two wins – against Temple in 2013 and New Mexico State in 2014 – in his two years in Moscow. Let’s face it, any coach would be frustrated with that record and with no signs of success coming soon.

But blaming the media for not reporting anything positive when you haven’t had much of anything positive going for the last two years isn’t a step in the right direction. In fact, it’s a step in the opposite direction.

September 13, 2014:   Idaho Vandals head coach Paul Petrino giving instructions during the Western Michigan Broncos game versus the Idaho Vandals at ASUI-Kibbie Dome in Moscow, ID.

September 13, 2014: Idaho Vandals head coach Paul Petrino giving instructions during the Western Michigan Broncos game versus the Idaho Vandals at ASUI-Kibbie Dome in Moscow, ID.

Petrino knows that this job is a challenge since he was raised in nearby Montana. He should already know that the local media are the only ones that are talking about Idaho football. You know the phrase, “Any publicity is good publicity?” Well, unless the Vandals start winning some games, Petrino will need to play nice with the local media in Moscow and Pullman, because that’s all the press that they are going to get.

Idaho will open the 2015 season against Ohio at home in the Kibbie Dome on Sept. 3. Then a trip to Los Angeles to face USC, followed by Wofford back home in Moscow. The Vandals also have a trip to Auburn scheduled in November.

On the other hand, Idaho players should be happy that Petrino is fighting for his players, even if the person he’s fighting is misguided. It shows that Petrino is hoping for good things from a program that has had so little in the past.

Petrino said in the statement that the Vandals are on the verge of accomplishing great things. For Petrino, his players and Vandal fans, those good things can’t come fast enough.

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