By Rick Bozich
WDRB Sports

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — My friend Pat Forde posted his annual list of the 25 Most Intriguing College Football Coaches Monday, the surest indicator we are racing toward the first game.

Don’t hyperventilate. It reads like another reminder that the biggest things in college football this season won’t happen in this area. No local names made his Top 25 unless you include former Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart, who starts the season at No. 10 as he opens his Florida State career.

Forde is not somebody to debate in college football. He knows the game as well as anybody.

But I will argue that Forde undervalued one coach in his Just Missed category: Jeff Brohm, who has won 37 of 53 games in four seasons as a head coach and looks like the best thing to happen to Purdue since Drew Brees.

1. The Brohm Bandwagon

There is not as much chatter about Brohm and Purdue locally this season, because the Boilermakers do not open against the University of Louisville. It is a mistake to overlook Brohm and not simply because of his strong local ties to Trinity High School, U of L and WKU.

Brohm remains one of the game’s hottest names, a Make-It-Happen guy who directed the Boilermakers to their first seven-win season since 2011.

Don’t sleep on the Boilers. They’re positioned to make noise in the Big Ten West, starting with opening week.

Instead of Louisville, Purdue has another sexy stage: a home Thursday night conference game against Northwestern, which is ranked 31st in the USA Today coaches’ preseason poll.

The Wildcats are the pick to finish behind Wisconsin in the Big Ten West. Purdue can scrub that narrative with an opening night victory in West Lafayette.

Northwestern has a recent history of slow starts. The Wildcats lost at Duke in early September last season. They were beaten by Western Michigan in their opener in 2016. They lost back-to-back games to California and Northern Illinois to open 2014.

Purdue is favored by three in a game ESPN will televise.

Brohm has also made recruiting noise. Check the Class of 2019 rankings at 247Sports. Purdue is ranked 22nd nationally, ahead of Michigan State, USC, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Florida, Louisville, Kentucky and Indiana.

Purdue has four oral commitments from 4-star prospects on a list of 21 commits with guys from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Illinois, Virginia, California, Texas, North Carolina and Alabama.

Do not sleep on Purdue.

2. ACC Football: Did You Know (Part I)?

I’ve heard grumbling about the predictions that Louisville is projected to finish fifth in the ACC Atlantic Division.

As the Cards move into their fifth season in the league, they’re no closer to winning a conference title than they were when they moved from the American Athletic Conference after the 2013 season.

I hear you. But I believe you should also consider this tasty ACC nugget:

Louisville is one of five schools that has yet to win the ACC title — and other names on this list are three programs that won national titles before joining the ACC.

That would be mighty Miami, which moved in 2004. Pitt, which transformed in 2013. And Syracuse, another 2013 addition.

Doug Flutie University is also on the list. Boston College moved into the ACC in 2005 — and has no ACC titles.

3. ACC Football: Did You Know (Part II)?

As I just mentioned, expectations are not soaring for Bobby Petrino’s team.

It’s not a mystery: No Lamar Jackson. No proven running back. A third defensive coordinator in three seasons. Losses to BC, Wake Forest and North Carolina State last season.

Another reason: As Louisville waits for Jawon Pass to establish himself at quarterback, the ACC is a league with proven performers at that position.

Ten quarterbacks return with 10 or more career starts, including the guys who finished second (Eric Dungey, Syracuse) and third (Ryan Finley, North Carolina State) in passing in the league last season.

4. When Will Nick Saban Squash Lane Kiffin?

Lane Kiffin did good work at Florida Atlantic last season. He is expected to win big with the Owls this season.

Maybe Kiffin will parlay that into another prime-time job, like the jobs Kiffin fumbled with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers and USC Trojans.

Or maybe Saban will spreads the word to avoid Kiffin.

There certainly seems to be a strange dynamic between the two. Kiffin took his latest social media shot at Saban over the weekend after Hurts spoke up about the Alabama QB situation. It's just the latest in a string of shots that Kiffin has taken against Saban, who employed Kiffin as his offensive coordinator during a stretch where other programs were not interested in Kiffin.

 Game on.

5. Football Forecast From Alabama

One of my favorite members from Howard Schnellenberger’s coaching staffs at Louisville was Brad Bradford, who worked as the running backs coach as well as a top recruiter.

Bradford’s roots were strong in Alabama. He left more than two decades ago to pursue a career in financial planning and motivational speaking. He follows the Crimson Tide like the market.

Bradford can write. He published a book and delivered a preview of the upcoming season for Alabama Living magazine.

The preview included his thoughts on the Crimson Tide, a topic of local interest for Sept. 1.

This is the link — and you should be warned Bradford predicted a 12-0 regular season for Alabama and that he ranked Kentucky as the 13th best job in the Southeastern Conference.

6. Kentucky No. 1

This item will serve as a direct contradiction to the next item — and an encouragement to keep reading.

Joe Boozell of NCAA.com is eager to identify the Number One for the coming college basketball season. Don’t tell Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Mark Few or Jay Wright, but he has already narrowed the field to two teams:

Kansas.

Kentucky.

You thought it was against NCAA rules to pick against Duke? (Your link.)

Another Bill Self vs. John Calipari dust-up? Remember that the teams will play Jan. 26 at Rupp Arena.

Boozell has them meeting again in the NCAA title game — with Calipari winning his second national title.

7. Top 50 Basketball Player Debate: No Cards?

Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead loves college basketball as much as I do. He shows his love every summer by posting his list of the Top 50 players for the upcoming season.

Here are his three criteria for ranking players:

One-third on their NBA talent; one third on individual talent and one-third for how vital they are to their team’s success.

A first look at McIntyre’s numbers suggest one thing: Get ready for another Mike Krzyzewski/Duke coronation. Forget that UK-Kansas prediction.

McIntyre’s rankings feature three of the nation’s top four players at Duke — 1.) forward R.J. Barrett; 2.) wing Cameron Reddish and 4.) forward Zion Williamson.

The only guy to break Duke’s dominance was North Carolina freshman Nassir Little.

The No. 5 player is the closest to an area representative — Purdue guard Carsen Edwards.

Where are the Louisville guys?

No love for V.J. King or Darius Perry, even at honorable mention.

Where are the Kentucky guys?

Keldon Johnson was the highest-ranked UK player at 18. Nothing for P. J. Washington or Reid Travis. Center Nick Richards earned an honorable mention.

Where are the Indiana guys?

Romeo Langford is ninth, the second highest ranking for any Big Ten player. Call me old-fashioned but until I see about a dozen IU games, Juwan Morgan is the best player on Archie Miller’s team.

He was a double-double machine for a long stretch of Big Ten play last season, and Morgan has gotten stronger and more polished.

Where are the Western Kentucky guys?

Freshman center Charles Bassey is No. 45.

8. Justin Thomas Chases History

Here are the names of the five golfers who have won the PGA Championship in consecutive seasons?

Denny Shute. Leo Diegel. (Stay with me, it gets better.) Walter Hagen. Gene Sarazen. Tiger Woods.

Actually you can mention Woods a second time because Tiger did it twice — in 1999 and 2000 as well as in 2006 and 2007.

Former St. Xavier star Justin Thomas is positioned to add his name to the list after his powerful performance at the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio last weekend.

According to VegasInsider.com, Thomas improved to the second betting choice at 12-to-1, tied with Rory McElroy behind only Dustin Johnson (9-1). Thomas will tee off with McElroy and Woods at 9:23 a.m. (EDT) at Bellerive Country Club.

9. Will Smith One Step Away

The race is on to become the next U of L baseball player to jump into the big leagues.

Brendan McKay will be there, but probably not this season. Corey Ray has delivered a monstrous season for the Brewers but I doubt Milwaukee would add a guy with Class AA experience to a pennant race.

Keep an eye on Will Smith, the former Kentucky Country Day and U of L catcher I featured 10 days ago.

After showing consistent power for the Dodgers Class AA team in Tulsa, Smith was rewarded with a promotion to the team’s Class AAA affiliate in Oklahoma City.

Smith doesn’t have a hit in his first three games, stretched across 11 at bats. But the production will come. It always has. Smith left Tulsa with 19 home runs, 14 doubles and 53 RBIs.

Smith was ranked the game’s 72nd best prospect by MLB.com last week.

10. Poll Results

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