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Published: Tuesday, 12/11/2007

Bobby Petrino resigns as Atlanta Falcons coach after 13 games


ATLANTA Bobby Petrino resigned as Atlanta Falcons coach today, a person within the league told The Associated Press. He lasted only 13 games with the NFL team.

Petrino left Louisville to become Falcons coach in January for a five-year, $24 million contract, largely because Atlanta felt he could help star quarterback Michael Vick reach his full potential.

A few months later, Vick came under investigation for a grisly dogfighting operation that eventually led him to plead guilty to federal charges. He was sentenced Monday to 23 months in prison without ever taking a snap for Petrino.

The person familiar with Petrino s decision requested anonymity because the team has not yet announced it. There was immediate speculation he had quit to take a college job, with Arkansas among the schools seeking a coach.

Arkansas has been looking for two weeks for a coach to replace Houston Nutt, who resigned after a tumultuous season and hours later took the Mississippi job.

After losing Vick, Petrino tried three other starting quarterbacks without success.

The Falcons are 3-10 and assured of the 32nd losing season in their 42-year history.

The resignation of Petrino was another jarring blow to the Falcons, who dealt with Vick s legal troubles since the first day of training camp, when a plane flew overhead pulling a sign that said: New Team Name? Dog Killers?

Petrino assembled one of college football s highest-scoring offenses at Louisville, but the Falcons were anemic without Vick. They also were plagued by injuries on the offensive line, which forced them to start two players who weren t even drafted out of college.

Just hours after Vick s sentencing in Richmond, Va., Atlanta took its fourth straight double-digit loss, 34-14 to the New Orleans Saints.

Not a good day, Petrino said afterward.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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