Home US Sports NCAAF Louisville’s Jeff Brohm becoming a coaching star at Purdue

Louisville’s Jeff Brohm becoming a coaching star at Purdue

15
0

CLOSE

Former U of L QB and assistant coach Jeff Brohm talks about the tough loss to his alma mater during his first game as head coach of Purdue football.
Sam Upshaw Jr./CJ

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – On a cool spring morning, a small car outside Purdue football’s massive headquarters contrasted with the sparkling new facility.

The Honda Accord, circa 2004, had Kentucky plates, was originally from a dealership in Louisville and parked in the spot reserved for the Boilermakers’ head coach.

Jeff Brohm was already hard at work.

He’s one of college football’s rising coaching stars, though you wouldn’t know it by his choice of modest transportation or his general demeanor. He resembles your buddy next door, as eager to discuss neighborhoods and travel directions as he is football. It’s a quality that has helped make Brohm an instant hit in this blue-collar town northwest of Indianapolis.

“We do like it here,” said Brohm, pointing out a window of the football facility. “We live right across the street. That’s the closest I’ve ever lived.”

As much as Brohm, a former star quarterback at Trinity High School and the University of Louisville, remains one of his native city’s favorite football sons, he is awfully popular after one season at Purdue.

Looking back: Jeff Brohm on Vols coach search: ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire’

Tim Sullivan: Rumor mill grinding overtime: Jeff Brohm to Louisville?

When Brohm departed a two-time Conference USA champion program at Western Kentucky to take over Purdue’s team prior to the 2017 season, the Boilermakers had won a total of nine games (with 39 losses) in the previous four seasons.

They went 7-6 in Brohm’s first season, far exceeding expectations, beating rival Indiana, winning the Foster Farms Bowl.

“Yeah, I for sure would have taken it (before last season),” Brohm said. “That was kind of the realistic goal we had behind closed doors, even though I knew no else thought that. … When you first heard about Purdue, it’s not the first team that jumps out to you as something that you for sure want to do. As I talked to colleagues, 90 percent of them told me not to take it and stay where you’re at until you get something you really, really want.

“And the more I just looked into it, the more I wanted to take this challenge on.”

The surprising success in 2017 courted interest in Brohm from other programs — most prominently Tennessee — and resulted in Brohm recently landing a two-year extension with Purdue through 2024. His deal is now seven years and worth $29 million in guaranteed payments.

“He has brought renewed energy to our campus, revived our fanbase and alumni and made Purdue relevant once again in the college football landscape,” athletic director Mike Bobinski said in announcing the extension to Brohm’s original six-year deal.

Tennessee’s failure to land Brohm was perhaps as well-received in Louisville as West Lafayette. The emergence of Brohm’s a potential star in his profession has and likely will continue to fuel speculation that one day Brohm might want to return home to his alma mater and succeed his former boss Bobby Petrino.

Professionally and personally, Louisville has never been too far for Brohm.

Consider that since leaving his post as Louisville’s offensive coordinator after the 2008 season, Brohm has worked for five different football programs. But he never sold his house in Louisville.

“It’s been paid off,” Brohm said, “so we’ll probably just keep that thing for a quite a while. But we’ve still got, me and my wife, family back there. … And we always like going back. There’s a lot of great people there and a lot of family and friends.”

Like any other U of L alum, Brohm paid attention to the fallout of the explosive revelations of an FBI investigation into alleged payments to assist the Cards’ recruiting in men’s basketball, which ultimately led to the firings of coach Rick Pitino and AD Tom Jurich.

“All of it’s unfortunate,” Brohm said. “You always hope for the best and we always root for them. I don’t know all the details of it all. I’m happy that hopefully they’ve moved past all that and they’re going to get back on a path of success and integrity and do things the right way, because it is a great university. … I think they’re on the right path already. They made a great hire in basketball and a great hire at athletic director.”

Brohm said he didn’t really know Louisville’s new AD Vince Tyra, who is a fellow Trinity alum, but he knew of him.

“I remember hearing about him and watching him from his Trinity days and obviously his father’s success in basketball,” Brohm said of Tyra. “So I don’t know extremely well, but I know a lot of people that do know him and they say nothing but great things about him, and I totally believe that. I think he’ll do a great job there.”

Signing the best: Purdue cleaning up on the recruiting trail in Kentucky

On a mission: Jeff Brohm: ‘I want to be a difference-maker’ at Purdue

On the field, Brohm’s first game at Purdue, as it turned out, was against Petrino and Lamar Jackson, a 35-28 Cards victory in Indianapolis that helped build confidence for the Boilermakers.

“I know we didn’t win the game on the scoreboard,” Brohm said, “but I think going into it, it was just a matter of ‘Hey, let’s try not to get beat by 40.’”

Brohm added that “We would love to have” Louisville and Kentucky on Purdue’s schedule.

“I hate to say it,” he said, “but at WKU, that’s the only thing I really ever asked our athletic department to do was to try to get Louisville on the schedule. We got them on there three straight years, and unfortunately, I’m not there to play it.”

Additionally, Purdue’s 2018 signing class featured five players from Kentucky, including Trinity wide receiver Rondale Moore, who was widely viewed as the state’s top prospect and flipped to Purdue after being committed to Texas.

Louisville, meanwhile, signed one player in 2018 from the state. Mark Stoops’ staff at Kentucky didn’t sign any.

“With mine and a lot of (our) coaches’ ties to Kentucky and the city of Louisville, we without question want to recruit that area as hard as we can,” Brohm said. “… We believe that you don’t have to bypass that state to go get the best talent. We think you can get it right there in the state of Kentucky. That’s our philosophy, and every year we’ll try to continue to do the same thing.”

In recruiting, the impressive new football facility has helped. It goes beyond simply keeping up with the Big Ten Conference. The Boilermakers moved in just before last season’s Louisville game, enjoying perks like a cavernous locker room and weight room with televisions and speakers suspended atop the room, as a scoreboard in a basketball arena would be.

Recruiting: ‘A big coup’ for Purdue as Trinity’s Rondale Moore signs with Boilermakers

From the opener: Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm: ‘We gave Louisville a game’

The Boilermakers’ administration has made other upgrades, such as the addition of lights for night games in the football stadium.

Brohm knew of Purdue’s plans prior to accepting the job.

“I think people are shocked when they get here that Purdue has this type of facility,” Brohm said. “It’s really got everything you need and more, all the bells and whistles. It’s something that if we can get recruits to come up and take a look at what Purdue is doing to improve the program and give us a chance, they’re always in shock and awe of what we have. That’s always a plus.

“Now we just have to do our part on the field and prove that we can win and put out a good product and play hard and play inspired football.”

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

Gentry Estes: 502-582-4205; gestes@courierjournal.com; Twitter: @Gentry_Estes. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/gentrye

Taking the job: Jeff Brohm: ‘I’m ready for a new challenge’

 

Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

%d bloggers like this: