STANFORD — Lincoln County assistant football coach Travis Leffew played for coach Bobby Petrino at Louisville from 2002-05, starting 37 straight games on the offensive line.
The Boyle County graduate earned second team All-America honors in 2005, as well as all-Big East and academic all-Big East. He was a third-team All-American in 2004 and first team all-Conference USA.
Under Petrino, Louisville achieved some of its greatest seasons ever before Petrino left for the Atlanta Falcons and later Arkansas. He was fired from Arkansas after a sex scandal in April, but was hired earlier this month as Western Kentucky’s new football coach.
“I would like to wish coach Petrino the best of luck as he ventures back into college football and shows the nation why he is one of the top coaches in the profession,” Leffew said. “He will do a great job at Western, and my wife (WKU alum Renita Pennington Leffew) is looking forward to him to continue building a program that is going in the right direction.”
Leffew shared his thoughts on Petrino and his return to the sidelines:
Question: What are your thoughts on Petrino getting back into coaching and going to Western?
Leffew: “I'm excited to see that he is back coaching and that he is back in Kentucky. His explosive mentality and offensive scheme are exciting to watch and great for college football. He will bring a new type of excitement to Western Kentucky.
“Western got a steal when hiring him. He has proven himself to be a great football coach and offensive mastermind. I truly believe he can beat you with his play book.”
Question: Were you surprised or shocked when you saw he had gotten fired?
Leffew: “I was more surprised by his firing. When hearing about the situation on ESPN and the talks with him and the AD, I knew the university was going to have to make move. I believe the situation is a family matter and should have not been published to the entire world.”
Question: Petrino has a reputation as a task-master, so what was it like to play for him? What can the Western players expect from a Petrino staff?
Leffew: “It was exciting to play for him. We were always ranked as one of the top offensive in the nation, and knew we were going to score points.
“The players at WKU can expect to be coached very hard. Coach Petrino is a perfectionist, and his goal is to prepare his players for perfection. He strives to teach players everything about their position.
“He holds his staff and players to a very high standard on and off the field. Players will spend a lot of time in meeting rooms and studying film.”
Question: How quickly do you think he can build a winner at Western?
Leffew: “I believe he will continue to build the great program that coach (Jack) Harbaugh and (Willie) Taggert have built. He will continue to play in the postseason every year.
“Depending on his time at Western, I think you will see them become a shocker to the college football world, and if he is there four-plus years, they will move into the national rankings as a program. He has proven this everywhere he has been.”
Question: Would you like to see Mike Summers, your line coach at Louisville, go to Western as the line coach?
Leffew: “I would love to have seen coach Summers remain on the staff at UK. He is a proven coach that knows how to build amazing offensive lines. He understands the entire game of football.
“If Summers were to get hired at WKU it would be a great addition to an upcoming program. He is a great mentor to student-athletes. Coach Summers is very deserving of many jobs, even head coaching.”
Question: How well do you think Petrino can recruit Kentucky?
Leffew: “I believe he can recruit the state of Kentucky. He has done it in the past. With Western beating UK last year, that gives him an added edge.
“Depending on how he hires his staff could help him in that. If he adds guys like coach Summers, coach (Greg) Nord he will be able to grab a lot of Kentucky recruits.”