BOZICH | Jeff Brohm earning A's as Purdue football's Mr. Fix-It
Jeff Brohm is already earning As as he tries to develop a winning and entertaining style of football at Purdue -- just as he did at Western Kentucky.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- When Jeff Brohm finished throwing footballs for Trinity High School, the University of Louisville, the NFL and XFL, he was uncertain where his career path would wind.
He did not call one of his former coaches for a job.
He took an aptitude test to determine the best fit for his skill set. That's The Brohm Way. Thoughtful. Prudent. Intentional.
The recommendation was not that Brohm become the next Howard Schnellenberger. The recommendation was Brohm consider a career as a private investigator.
"My wife (Jennifer) tells me I'm pretty sneaky," Brohm said. "I keep things close to the vest. I probably wouldn't be bad at it."
In case you have not noticed, Brohm lacks Tom Selleck's dark mustache or thick hair.
Turned out football was Brohm's calling. He's about eight months into investigating this puzzling Big Ten concept:
Is Brohm the guy who can do what Joe Tiller, Jim Young, Jack Mollenkopf achieved -- win impressively at Purdue?
Make college football remember when the Boilermakers were the original Quarterback U, a program that produced Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Mike Phipps, Gary Danielson, Mark Herrmann, Jim Everett, Drew Brees and other dazzling throwers?
Tune in (to WDRB) Saturday, Sept. 2. Brohm will begin his Purdue career against the program where Brohm, his father, Oscar, and brothers, Jeff and Brian, played -- the University of Louisville.
The Boilermakers figure to be a four-touchdown underdog against Bobby Petrino's Top 25 Louisville team at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Relax. It won't be the only time Purdue will be a 28-point underdog.
"It's not the team I would want to choose the first game out, especially with their quarterback (defending Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson)," Brohm said.
"He's a special guy and I think we all know that. He's going to have the ball in his hands every play and we're going to have to find a way to stop him, which will be difficult.
"It's on Fox PrimeTime Saturday night, which means people want to watch it. So it's going to be up to us to make sure we don't go out there and get embarrassed and that we go out there and compete and show some fight and showcase what we're all about.
"I think it will be a great matchup for us as far as, 'Let's go be tested right off the bat. Let's play a game that people want to see.'"
Purdue has not won more than three games since 2012. The Boilermakers have not delivered a winning Big Ten record since 2006. They've lost four straight to Indiana for the first time since 1947. I'll stop there.
This will not be a quick fix. But it is a task that requires a persistent, methodical approach similar to the one Brohm watched Schnellenberger, his mentor, execute at Louisville and Florida Atlantic.
Identify and develop players who will thrive in an aggressive, innovative offensive style. Build a defense tougher than a $2 steak. Sell the Purdue brand in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Chicago, Louisville, Ohio and other spots it has resonated in earlier eras.
Coach a fearless style based in optimism and encouragement instead of paranoia and fear. Take advantage of the $65 million practice facility and football complex that Purdue will officially open next month.
"We want to have fun with it," Brohm said. "We want to score points. We want to do everything in our power to make it fun to watch and play in."
The early returns have been encouraging. Sports Illustrated gave Purdue an "A" for hiring Brohm, whose three Western Kentucky teams won 30 of 40 games and ranked as one of top passing programs in America.
FoxSports.com took it up a notch, awarding Purdue an A-plus. Athlon ranked the Brohm hiring the fourth best of the 21 new coaches for 2017.
Brohm and his staff have secured 14 commitments for Purdue's 2018 recruiting class, including four from Kentucky as a well as Jack Plummer, a three-star quarterback from Phoenix. He had offers from Arizona, Boise State, Oregon State and South Carolina.
Actually credit Brohm with a 15th recruit -- Brees, the former Boilermaker who is preparing for his 17th NFL season. The two quarterbacks recently huddled in New Orleans.
"Drew wants to see the program do well," Brohm said. "They all want to see it get back to its roots as far as having an offensively explosive team that showcases the quarterback and competes for Big Ten titles. They're willing to support it as much as they can."
Don't expect many Shock the World moments this season. In addition to nine Big Ten games, Purdue plays out of conference games against U of L, at Missouri and Ohio University, which is picked to win the Mid-American Conference East Division.
The Boilermakers are inexperienced at receiver and thin across the defensive line. Brohm likes quarterback David Blough, but needs him to upgrade his touchdown/interception ratio from 25/21. The pre-season magazines predict Purdue and Illinois will battle to avoid last place in the Big Ten West.
"We've got to increase our depth," Brohm said. "We've got to find playmakers. We've got to get our guys to play hard, to compete, to want to win.
"Without question, we have a lot of work to do."
And a coach willing to do it.
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