SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri State coach Bobby Petrino, whose return to the sidelines was delayed until the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was named Missouri Valley Football Conference coach of the year on Thursday.
Petrino led the Bears to a 5-1 record, and they were co-champions in the spring conference. Missouri State, winners of just one game the previous season, had been picked to tie for ninth in a preseason poll but will open the FCS playoffs on Saturday against North Dakota.
Petrino edged out South Dakota State's John Stiegelmeier to become the first Missouri State coach to win the honor since Jesse Branch won it in both 1989 and 1990.
The university hired Petrino in January 2020 to replace Dave Steckel. Petrino came to Missouri State with a 119-56 record in 14 seasons at Louisville, Arkansas, Western Kentucky and again at Louisville. He also coached the NFL's Atlanta Falcons for 13 games in 2007.
His biggest success as a college coach came at Arkansas, where he was 34-17, leading the school a No. 5 final ranking and 11 wins in 2011. Petrino was injured in a motorcycle accident that exposed an extra-marital affair with an athletic department employee and was fired.
He coached Western Kentucky in 2013 before being rehired at Louisville for the 2014 season. He was fired in 2018 by Louisville after a 2-8 start.