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Mike Petrino brings football background to basketball court as new Montana Lady Griz head coach

Mike Petrino
Posted at 9:35 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-15 11:29:21-04

MISSOULA — Petrino is a household name in the football community in Montana and beyond.

Just to name a few, Jason and Jared Petrino are both assistant football coaches at Southern Illinois, with Jason previously serving as the head coach at Rocky Mountain College.

Paul Petrino is the head coach at Idaho. His son, Mason Petrino, is the former quarterback for the Vandals.

Bobby Petrino is the head coach at Missouri State and previously was the head coach with the Atlanta Falcons, Arkansas and Louisville, the latter of at which he recruited and coached former Heisman Trophy winner and last year's NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.

Bob Petrino Sr. was the longtime coach at Carroll College.

So with a family full of football coaches, how did the new University of Montana women’s basketball coach find himself on the court instead of on the gridiron?

Just ask Mike Petrino himself.

“I went to watch my brother who was a (graduate assistant) at the University of Wyoming and actually out at football practice I got to know Joe Legerski, who was the coach of the Wyoming girls," Petrino told MTN Sports. "We talked and stayed in touch for about seven, eight years. Next thing I know he gave me a call to see if I wanted to jump to coaching women’s college basketball.

"I always say that football has brought a lot of things to me.”

Jason and Jared are Mike Petrino's brothers while Bobby and Paul are his cousins. Bob Petrino Sr. is his uncle. Mike Petrino was named the head coach of the Lady Griz in April after Shannon Schweyen was not retained after four seasons at the helm.

Petrino, who was born in Glasgow and raised in Kalispell, still stays connected to football. He even sits in on Montana coach Bobby Hauck’s meetings. But it isn’t just football, it’s all sports that he learns from.

“I love studying all kinds of coaches whatever sport it’s in," Petrino said. "I think you can learn from a lot of coaches, watch how they do practice, how they handle and work with kids. In the end it’s all about how you connect with people and work with them.”

And Petrino still talks to his brothers on nearly a daily basis, but some of those conversations have shifted from strategies to the unknown.

“We talk a lot especially about the last four months, 'Well, what are you hearing, how are you guys handling this, what are you guys doing?' Steal ideas from there," he said.

And it hasn’t been the easiest transition to a head coaching role with COVID-19. With fall sports now postponed in the Big Sky Conference, questions are circulating about how winter sports could be altered if that time comes.

So for Petrino and the Lady Griz, they are doing their best to stay prepared.

“We understand we are scheduled to play exhibitions in October and November and we understand that might change so we will pace ourselves, but it’s a chance to get to work and get to know each other," Petrino said. "I go back to the fact that with seven returners, eight new faces, we’ll use this time to help us.”