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Bob Petrino, Sr.
Bob Petrino, Sr.

Bob "Putter" Petrino, Sr., served as Carroll College's head football coach from 1971-98. In 28 years, he guided the Saints to a 163-90-2 career record, with a .644 winning percentage. During his tenure, Carroll garnered 16 Frontier Conference grid championships and appeared in nine national post-season playoffs, advancing to the NAIA semi-finals four times. Four of Petrino's teams went undefeated for the regular season, in 1973, 1978, 1986 and 1988.

Putter had been a football, basketball and baseball player for Butte Central and the Butte Legion team in the early 1950s. He played for three state championship teams: the 1952 grid Class B Maroons; the 1953 Legion baseball club; and the 1957 Copper League Butte McQueens. In 1953, his 81-yard touchdown helped beat Butte High, and still stands as the longest TD reception in the history of the storied Bulldog-Maroon rivalry. At Western Montana in Dillon, he played baseball and was "an average college football player" (in his own words), before going into coaching.

"Petrino spent 40 years as a coach in Montana before retiring from the Saints," stated longtime IR sports writer Tom Stuber. "His ports of call included Grass Range, Moore, Harlowton, and Butte Central before settling in at Carroll." At Grass Range and Moore, he coached football, basketball and track, and in 1964 he led the Harlowton Engineers to the state Class B hoops championship. Petrino directed his alma mater, the Maroons, to three divisional grid titles and two epic victories over crosstown rival Butte High. In 1969, Butte Central captured the state Class A championship.

At Carroll, Petrino was named the Frontier Coach of the Year 13 times. In 1973, his Saints went undefeated in the regular season, but were not invited to the NAIA Tournament. Petrino later would become instrumental in helping to make the post season qualifications more fair, so deserving teams would not be left out. His gridders appeared in their first National Tournament in 1978, becoming only the second team-ever from the Frontier Conference to make the playoffs. In 28 years, he registered 24 winning seasons, and was a positive influence on hundreds of young men.

"Petrino was always firm but fair with his players, and many of them return for Carroll's annual Hall of Fame ceremonies and other functions to reflect back fondly on the man who helped mold their adult lives," Stuber wrote.

"The number of young people that coach Petrino has influenced is immense," wrote former Capital coach and Petrino's son-in-law, Mark Samson. "Many of his former players went on to become successful teachers, coaches, doctors, lawyers, businessmen and politicians. And they will all tell you that much of their success is due to the work ethic instilled in them by coach Petrino. Putter also served as Carroll's Athletic Director for several years, and headed-up fundraising efforts that brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for athletic scholarships."

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Petrino coached a number of great teams and a plethora of superior athletes, but I'm guessing his two favorites would be his own sons, Bobby and Paul, who were both collegiate All-American quarterbacks. But he might even be more proud of their coaching careers, as Bobby is now the head man at Louisville and Paul is the Cardinals' offensive coordinator. One of his more pleasurable past-times in his retirement is flying down to visit with his sons n talking, watching and (of course) helping coach football.

"Retired since 1998, coach Petrino enjoys many activities with his wife Patsy. These include golfing, traveling, attending college football games, and watching his many grandchildren compete in football, basketball, track, baseball, soccer and gymnastics," Samson wrote.

Bob Petrino is now a member of five Hall of Fames, having previously been named to: the NAIA National Hall of Fame, the Montana Coaches Hall of Fame, the Butte Athletic Hall of Fame and the Carroll College Hall of Fame.

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