If Louisville fires Petrino after the 2018 season, they'll owe him more than $12 million. If they wait another year, they'll still owe him more than $12 million thanks to a bizarre clause agreed upon by former athletics director Tom Jurich. And every Petrino hot seat discussion includes that buyout and Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm, a Louisville native and former Cardinals' quarterback and assistant coach.
If Louisville fires Petrino but doesn't get Brohm, who are other candidates? Let's guess.
Current Position: Defensive Coordinator – Florida
Louisville associate head coach and defensive coordinator from 2014-16 — when their defense wasn't garbage — Grantham was swiped by Dan Mullen in 2017 and followed Mullen to Florida last year.
A former longtime NFL assistant, Grantham's college stock skyrocketed during his three-year run at Louisville and is now one of the most regarded coaches in the game. He's 52 years old and has never led a program but the results speak for themselves.
Current Position: Head Coach – USF
This would feel weird and might be unprecedented. Replace a coach who was in his second stint as Louisville head coach with another coach who'd be a second-time Louisville head coach.
But does it make sense?
Strong went 37-15 and won two conference titles in four seasons at Louisville, including 23 wins in his final two years before bolting for Texas. Much of Louisville's leadership is different from Strong's tenure but he was a well-liked and highly respected coach
Current Position: Head Coach – Memphis
Mentioned as a potential candidate for nearly every Power Five opening in the last two years, Mike Norvell's stock has plateaued temporarily as Memphis labors through his third season. However, the 37-year-old former Pittsburgh and Arizona State offensive coordinator is still a rising star that will get notable offers soon.
He's reserved, calculated and respectful. That might be a nice change of pace.
Current Position: Head Coach – Temple
Geoff Collins might be another year or two away from making a Power Five job but a program like Louisville could take an early swing. Temple's 47-year-old second-year head coach is a first-time head coach but has loads of Power Five experience and has recruited most areas east of the Mississippi.
If the Cardinals jump on him early, it'd save them some money, which is important if they give Petrino more than $12 million to leave.