MOSCOW, Idaho — Paul Petrino has come home to Montana dozens of times since taking over the Idaho Vandals’ football program before the 2013 season, but for the first time in his six years at the helm, his next trip to Big Sky Country will put Petrino on the sidelines against one of his home-state teams when the Vandals travel to Montana State on Saturday.
“There will be a lot of people there that I know,” said Petrino. “I don’t think any game you want to win more than any other game because you want to win every game with every ounce of everything you have in your body, but it definitely makes you feel a little bit, you’re going home. You always want to do good when you go home, that’s for sure.”
It’s maybe more of a homecoming for assistants like Troy Purcell, the former Bozeman High football coach, one of Petrino’s teammates at both Helena Capital and Carroll College, and Bobby Daly, the Helena Capital-turned-Montana State all-American, but what was high school Paul Petrino’s stance on Montana State? Any chance he grew up rooting for the Bobcats?
“No, because my dad was at Carroll College and I was probably more of a Carroll guy,” said Petrino, referencing his late father, Bob Sr. “The (Montana) Grizzlies recruited me a lot harder than the Bobcats, so I probably was a little more of a Grizzly fan than a Bobcat fan, although there were a lot of guys that I grew up going to camp with and stuff that played for Montana State. The year they won the national championship and had a really good defense, I think all those kids on defense were Montana kids. And I grew up going to camp with quite a few of them, so I always rooted for them because I knew them. I rooted for them in the playoffs, rooted for them in the big games because they were Montana kids. I rooted for them, for sure, then.”
Petrino and the Vandals, 1-1 in Big Sky Conference play, kick off against Jeff Choate’s Montana State program (1-1 in league play) at 2 p.m. from Bobcat Stadium on Saturday.