Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino crashes motorcycle

By Kurt Voigt/The Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino veered off a two-lane highway and crashed his motorcycle over the weekend, sending him to a hospital and leaving him in what his family described only as “stable condition.” He is expected to make a full recovery.

Petrino crashed Sunday night near a small town 20 miles southeast of Fayetteville. State police spokesman Bill Sadler said the Razorbacks coach was taken to a hospital for treatment, but he declined to say which hospital or whether Petrino was still there Monday.

The university confirmed the crash and issued a statement from Petrino’s family that disclosed no details about any potential injuries.

“Coach Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident on Sunday evening that involved no other individuals,” the statement said. “He is in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery. Our family appreciates respect for our privacy during the recovery and we are grateful for the thoughts of Razorback fans at this time.”

Neither Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville or Northwest Medical Center in Springdale would confirm Petrino was a patient. The school said athletic director Jeff Long would consult with the Petrino family before providing any additional information.

The crash occurred near the town of Crosses on Arkansas Highway 16, a winding road popular with motorcyclists in the rolling hills of Madison County. Sadler said Petrino’s motorcycle left the highway and crashed.

Petrino led Arkansas to an 11-2 record last season and a Cotton Bowl win over Kansas State. He’s 34-17 in four seasons at the school, 21-5 over the last two, and has built the Razorbacks into a Southeastern Conference power.

An avid motorcycle enthusiast, the 51-year-old Petrino has talked about owning a motorcycle and going for rides around northern Arkansas.

In a 2008 interview with Northwest Arkansas Media, Petrino said he has been an avid rider since he was 10. The Helena, Mont., native said at the time that he owned a Harley-Davidson and four other motorcycles.

“It’s relaxing to me,” Petrino said then. “You get out and you get to see some good scenery, and I like to ride up to Beaver Lake. It’s pretty up there. I’ve been around the outdoors. I grew up around the outdoors my whole life.”

Petrino said he had never been in a bad accident on a motorcycle, though he and his friends had some mishaps.

“Well, there was always the school of hard knocks,” Petrino said. “We fell off a few times and learned about it.”

Since his arrival at Arkansas, Petrino has turned the Razorbacks into a national contender. They were 5-7 during his first season in 2008 before improving to 8-5 in 2009, winning the Liberty Bowl over East Carolina.

That was Ryan Mallett’s first season as the starting quarterback at Arkansas and was the first of three straight seasons the Razorbacks have led the Southeastern Conference in passing. Mallett left for the NFL after 2010, but only after guiding Arkansas to its first BCS game, where it lost to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl to finish the season 10-3.

Even without Mallett last season, Arkansas excelled behind quarterback Tyler Wilson, who earned first-team All-SEC honors under Petrino’s guidance. The Razorbacks were ranked No. 5 to finish the season, with their only losses coming to national champion Alabama and runner-up LSU.

Petrino was an NFL coach, leaving the Atlanta Falcons after 13 games in the 2007 season to join the Razorbacks. He was a college head coach at Louisville before that, guiding the Cardinals to a 41-9 record from 2003-07.