Bobby Petrino says the facilities at Western Kentucky are better than what he had at Arkansas. Absurd, right? Well...
Bobby Petrino isn't completely full of it.
When Petrino says the football facilities at Arkansas aren't as good as what his teams use at Western Kentucky, he is not entirely off base.
Here's what Petrino had to say last week on WGFX in Nashville.
"[I]t's unbelievable the facilities we have at WKU. The weight room, training room and locker room are way off the charts, way better than what we had at Arkansas."
Naturally, fans and local media folks are beside themselves that Petrino would make those comments. Twitter exploded. I haven't even bothered to wade onto the message boards, but I can accurately guess what they're saying without looking.
Who in their right mind could think Western Kentucky - of the Sun Belt Conference - has anything better than Arkansas? Who would believe that?
Well, Bret Bielema for one.
You might have heard of Bielema. He's the guy hired to replace the guy that replaced Petrino. A guy that has played and coached in some of college football's best conferences.
Bielema told fans at one of last week's recruiting roundups that the current Razorback locker room and training facilities for football are pre-historic. Or maybe he said they were stone aged.
Either way, Bielema's point was that Arkansas has some deficiencies with its current facilities infrastructure. This is no different that what Petrino said during his entire tenure in Fayetteville.
Arkansas players have in the past dressed in two different locker rooms. Their current physical therapy and recovery areas are inadequate. They had to convert part of the visitors' locker room into additional athletic training space.
What Petrino said in Nashville over the weekend is no different than what he said while he was here. It's no different than what Bielema said to fans last week.
Take a look for yourself at the virtual tour of Western Kentucky facilities. Check out the locker, training and hydrotherapy rooms used by the Hilltoppers. Not to mention those sweet volleyball facilities that have no doubt caught Petrino's eyes, right? (Waka! Waka!)
WKU's facilities are some of the nicest in the Sun Belt. And, believe it or not, they're nicer in some areas than what Petrino had at Arkansas.
So Bobby Petrino isn't completely full of it.
Here's the thing, though...
Bobby Petrino isn't being completely honest about the set up at Arkansas either. He's leaving out a pretty important piece of information.
Which, as it turns out, is sort of his thing.
Petrino stopped at the "way better than what we had at Arkansas" part. What he omitted is what folks here know and is ultimately why they're so upset with his comments.
Arkansas has the $40 million football ops center on the way. Its locker room (through the week, but oddly enough, not on game days) will be one of the nicest in the SEC. Its training room will be much larger and more modern. And, again, one of the nicest in the SEC. There will be an actual hydrotherapy room and not a couple of old hot tubs and a few large metal tubs filled with ice for players to sit in after practice outside the facility.
Reynolds Razorback Stadium is a beautiful facility for fans. Outside of those awful temporary bleachers atop the south end zone section, the stadium has ‘Wow' factor to it. (And the weight room at Arkansas is top-notch.)
Once the stadium was renovated in the early 2000's, folks running the athletic department and football program seemed content. Until Petrino got here and expressed a desire for improvements and athletic director Jeff Long made it a priority.
What Petrino saw were woefully outdated facilities for the players. It's the same thing Bielema sees now when he's looking at the current set up versus what the Razorbacks will have in the future.
Arkansas' commitment to improving the facilities is what got Bielema here. He's on record saying the ops center - set to open in summer 2013 - was a selling point, along with other facilities projects. I wrote all about it for Arkansas Business.
Bielema was sold on what's coming. Not what's here now.
When it comes to Petrino, there are plenty of areas to find fault. Be mad about the wreck. Get upset about inconsistency on defense and on the offensive line. Wonder why his average losses to Nick Saban were by more than three touchdowns per game.
That's all fair game, but know that his assessment of the facilities that Arkansas had when he got here aren't off base. And his attitude about them is why the Razorbacks will be in much better position going forward.