CRAWFORD | With Brohm extension, WKU lands the state's biggest s - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | With Brohm extension, WKU lands the state's biggest signing of the day

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WKU coach Jeff Brohm celebrates a win in the Miami Beach Bowl. (Cal Sports Media via AP images). WKU coach Jeff Brohm celebrates a win in the Miami Beach Bowl. (Cal Sports Media via AP images).

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — With all due respect to the young men who signed national letters of intent in the state of Kentucky Wednesday, or for that matter the wide receiver coach who went from one state school to another, the biggest signing occurred down in Bowling Green.

Western Kentucky University head coach Jeff Brohm signed on the dotted line for a four-year contract extension and a $200,000 annual raise.

The bump in salary, covered by private fund-raising, brings Brohm’s annual pay to $800,000.

But to borrow a phrase from the TV commercial: The value of having Brohm return to WKU after leading it to a first-ever season ending AP Top 25 raking as an FBS member?


Generally, a coach has a season like that and he’s gone before the bowl game.

And Brohm could have been, if he’d wanted to play that game. He could’ve put his name out there. He could’ve hired an agent, had his people talk to other schools’ people. He could easily have done that.

He did not. Let’s not be unrealistic. There were jobs that might’ve turned his head.

But the important thing is that Brohm really wasn’t out there looking for them. He wasn’t throwing his hat into the ring. He was coaching WKU, preparing for a bowl game.

Frankly, that’s a bit of the player’s mentality coming out in Brohm. He had a challenge put in front of him, a chance to keep WKU in the Top 25, a chance to beat an AAC opponent, and he focused on it. Job talk could wait. He said publicly, he would not entertain any job discussions until the Hilltoppers had played in the Miami Beach Bowl. And it wasn't just talk. And frankly, in college football these days, it is not business as usual.

By the time WKU had beaten South Florida in that game, the music had just about stopped on the coaching carousel. But Brohm had made a statement about who he is. He told Sports Illustrated writer Pete Thamel, who wrote about Brohm's unusually principled approach, that he just didn't think taking overtures would be the right thing to do. He doesn't have an agent. He made money in the NFL. He can afford to handle this his way, and he is.

Among those in attendance for that bowl game was a coach who knows something about building programs. Howard Schnellenberger built them from scratch at Miami and Louisville. He said Brohm has the ability to build something at WKU.

“He has a lot of the same advantages we saw at Louisville,” Schnellenberger said. “What you have to do, though, is get the community behind you. You have to get everyone, the students, the faculty, the staff, the city, everyone needs to be behind what you’re doing.”

That WKU was able to go out and raise $200,000 per year is perhaps a sign that the community is doing just that. Increased attendance next season would be another.

WKU athletic director Todd Stewart said he’s thrilled to be welcoming Brohm back.

“Jeff Brohm’s leadership has resulted in our football program reaching historic heights, and this is an exciting and unprecedented time for everyone associated with WKU football,” Stewart said. “Despite receiving overtures from many regarding other coaching opportunities, Jeff remained loyal to WKU and he and his family are valued residents of our community. It was imperative we reward that loyalty. His dedication to our players and their personal development is also noteworthy. I am thrilled that Jeff will continue to lead our program moving forward.”  

No one ever knows what the future is going to hold. But Brohm staying in Bowling Green after this season is, perhaps, to WKU what Charlie Strong turning down Tennessee was to Louisville.

It’s a sign of respect to the program.

In a statement announcing the extension, Brohm said, “I would like to thank President Dr. Gary Ransdell, Todd Stewart and our administration here at WKU for their support and confidence in me as we build this program. I have enjoyed representing my home state of Kentucky and our program and believe we can do special things on The Hill. I look forward to continuing what we started in 2014 and 2015 and to keep building WKU the right way, with the right people involved in the process. We have a great community, great fans, and great student-athletes, and I am excited for the opportunity to continue pursuing the goal of competing for conference championships, going to great bowl destinations in C-USA and achieving in the classroom and the community.”

Earlier Wednesday, Brohm announced the signing of 13 players, including Louisville transfers Tyler Ferguson (QB), Keith Brown (LB) and Nick Dawson-Brents (LB).

Brown can be an impact player for WKU right away. Ferguson figures to finally get his shot at quarterback after sitting out two seasons at U of L. They’re two of seven early enrollees who will be able to participate in spring drills for the Hilltoppers.

“I feel like we got guys that fit what we do, and they’re very good people of high character, good students as well, and I think they all want to be here, which is very important,” Brohm added. “I think they are all hungry. It’s important to have guys that you recruit that you feel like do have a chip on their shoulder, that do feel like they’re out to prove people how good they are and how good they can be. It’s always good when you can get guys like that — who do have that hunger.”

Brohm certainly has it. He knows what that’s about. He’s not just biding his time in Bowling Green.

WKU is lucky he’ll be spending more time there. In Kentucky, at least, he was the biggest signing of the day.

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