Report: Tulsa's Kragthorpe candidate to replace Petrino

Updated: January 8, 2007, 12:41 AM ET
Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. -- Tulsa's Steve Kragthorpe has surfaced as the leading candidate to replace Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported on Sunday night.

Petrino informed his Louisville team on Sunday that he's accepted the head coach's position for the Atlanta Falcons. An official announcement is expected on Monday.

Kragthorpe was at the American Football Coaches Association Convention in San Antonio Sunday and could not be reached for comment.

Tulsa athletic director Bubba Cunningham, contacted by the Tulsa World Sunday night, deferred to a statement he released last October. The statement said speculation about the future employment status of a head coach "can be damaging" and that he was not going to comment on hypothetical discussions until there is a change in employment status.

Kragthorpe, 41, has led TU to three bowl games in four years and his team won the 2005 Conference USA championship. He is close friends with Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich, a relationship established when the two were together at Northern Arizona.

Kragthorpe was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the Lumberjacks from 1990-93, and Jurich was NAU's athletic director from 1988-1996.

Kragthorpe was considered a leading candidate to replace Petrino when the Louisville coach spoke with LSU about its opening two years ago. Louisville (12-1) is coming off a Big East Conference championship season and defeated Wake Forest 24-13 in the Orange Bowl.

The Cardinals are expected to finish in the top five in the final polls and could make a national championship run next season.

Jurich released a statement saying that his school is "going to move quickly in hiring our next coach to keep our momentum going."

Kragthorpe's name has been linked to numerous vacancies this season, but he's often squelched rumors.

"I'm not interested in leaving Tulsa," Kragthorpe said last October. "My family absolutely loves living here. If I'm the head coach for the next 10 years, I can think of nothing better."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press