University of Idaho football coach Paul Petrino was named the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year, the league announced today.
The award comes after Petrino, 49, who was born in Butte, led the Vandals to wins in six of their last eight games. Idaho finished at 8-4 overall and 6-2 in league play.
Petrino, a former Carroll College quarterback, will lead the Vandals in the Idaho Famous Potato Bowl against Colorado State on Dec. 22. The appearance will mark Idaho’s first bowl game since 2009.
Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear, a 1976 Butte Central graduate, hired Petrino in December 2012. Petrino was the offensive coordinator at Illinois at the time Spear lured him to the Palouse.
The Vandals went 1-11 as an independent in 2013. Idaho joined the Sun Belt in 2014, and the Vandals finished 1-10. Idaho started to turn things around last year, finishing 4-8 in a season that saw the Vandals lose three games by a touchdown or less.
Now, Petrino and the Vandals are bowl bound.
Petrino is the son of former Butte Central and Carroll College coach Bob Petrino. His brother Bobby is the head coach at Louisville.
The Petrinos still have family living in the Mining City.