BOZICH | Challenge of building Big Ten winner lured Brohm to Pur - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Challenge of building Big Ten winner lured Brohm to Purdue from WKU

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Jeff Brohm, with his family in this photo, believes he can build a Big Ten winner at Purdue. Jeff Brohm, with his family in this photo, believes he can build a Big Ten winner at Purdue.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — I typed this Friday, and I will type it again Monday: 

There was no deal, agreement or even wink that Jeff Brohm would leave Western Kentucky to become the next football coach at Purdue prior to the Hilltoppers’ victory over Louisiana Tech in the Conference USA Championship game Saturday.

On Friday Brohm was prepared to stay at Western Kentucky.

He loved his bosses, his players and the family he created in three seasons there. No rush to get out of town. He had both of his brothers on his staff and his parents and sister living less than two hours away.

Brohm could stay at WKU for a fourth season. Or possibly go to Baylor. He met with representatives of that Big 12 program for several hours Sunday in Nashville.

Cincinnati was also in play. Tommy Tuberville resigned as the Bearcats’ head coach Sunday. That appeared to open the door for Brohm.

The Cincinnati job was closer to Brohm’s proven home turf — and guys like Brian Kelly, Butch Jones and Mark Dantonio all showed what could be done there. Most guys would describe that as a “great fit.”

None of that changed over the weekend.

What did change was the powerful recruiting pitch Purdue made Saturday night as well as on Sunday, a pitch highlighted by a six-year contract worth a reported $20 million.

Athletic director Mike Bobinski convinced Brohm that the Boilermakers are determined to win the way the program won when Drew Brees quarterbacked Purdue to the Rose Bowl 16 seasons ago.

Come to Purdue and shake up the Big Ten West by throwing the football better than anybody in that division throws it. Bobinski has been on the job less than four months. Brohm is his signature hire.

Brohm’s 2016 WKU team averaged more than 517 yards per game on offense. None of the seven teams in the Big Ten West averaged even 400.

Mitch Daniels, the Purdue president, had plenty to say, too. When a leader who proved that he knew how to win as Indiana’s governor calls, a reasonable guy like Brohm listens. At least one member of the Board of Trustees helped reinforce the recruiting pitch.

Does the Purdue job have warts?

You bet. Any job that’s open has warts.

The last two Purdue coaches — Darrell Hazell and Danny Hope — have been fired. The Boilermakers have celebrated one winning record in the last eight seasons.

The recruiting base is ordinary. On average, nearly 40 percent of the 57,236 seats at Ross-Ade Stadium went unfilled during the 2016 season. Purdue football has been buried in a fairway bunker since Joe Tiller left town.

Guess what?

If Howard Schnellenberger thought like that the University of Louisville football program would have never gone to Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls.

It’s a job in the Big Ten, the league many analysts said was the nation’s best conference in 2016. Brohm believes that he can build something that will last at Purdue.

There’s definitely Schnellenberger DNA in Brohm. As I said Saturday, this is a football player who turned down the chance to play quarterback at Notre Dame and Tennessee because he believed in Schnellenberger’s hyperbole when U of L was bunked in old Cardinal Stadium.

Brohm believes he can build a serious football winner at Purdue. Make Purdue football formidable and fun again.

Dig back beyond the past eight seasons. You’ll see that Purdue has as much pedigree as Wisconsin or Iowa. It has more than Minnesota, Illinois or Northwestern. 

Nebraska is the only spot in the Big Ten West that has consistently done more remarkable things than the Boilermakers. Brees isn’t the only terrific quarterback who played there. Jim Everett, Mark Herrmann, Gary Danielson, Mike Phipps, Bob Griese and Len Dawson were all Purdue guys — as were Rod Woodson, Otis Armstrong and Leroy Keyes. 

Cris Dishman is one of several former Louisville high school products who starred at Purdue. Expect Brohm and his staff to work the Louisville area high school scene with vigor.

Don’t discount the quarterback tradition. There was a time when Purdue had as much claim as any program to calling itself Quarterback U. 

Brohm is a former quarterback who showed he can make defensive coordinators howl with his creative offensive scheme. 

His 2016 WKU offense averaged 336.8 yards passing, 517.4 yards total offense and 45.1 points. The best numbers posted in those categories by the seven Big Ten West programs this season were 294.9 passing (Purdue), 392.9 total offense (Northwestern) and 30.3 points (Minnesota). Brohm won't be afraid to do it his way.

The Boilermakers have the necessary new sparkling practice facility. They don’t have a mammoth stadium that will tilt recruiting battles for kids that care about playing in front of 80,000 people.

But there are plenty of programs that have shown they can play winning football in stadiums that seat between 50,000 and 60,000.

Purdue just needs somebody to make fans and recruits believe it can be one of those programs. Jeff Brohm is convinced he can do that.

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