BOZICH | Jeff Brohm & Purdue: Respect his decision
By Rick Bozich
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The reasons that Jeff Brohm will not be the next University of Louisville football coach are precisely the reasons that Jeff Brohm would have been a grand slam as the next U of L football coach.
Angry that Brohm is staying at Purdue?
You shouldn’t be. That’s unfair.
Threatening Trinity High School? That's outrageous.
Disappointed that Brohm is not leaving West Lafayette?
Totally understandable. Jeff Brohm was cut from central casting for the Louisville job.
Confused by my opening paragraphs?
If you know Brohm, you understand my point. If you know Brohm, you understand this tug of war between U of L and Purdue, old home vs. new home, Cardinal tradition vs. Boilermaker glory was a decision that Brohm agonized about from every angle and perspective until he decided to remain with the Boilermakers early Wednesday evening.
For Brohm, this decision was never about money, ego, stadium capacity or which place has the fanciest recruiting lounge. Do not howl at U of L athletic director Vince Tyra. He made his best and most appealing pitch to get Brohm to come home to the program where he played and coached.
In the end, Brohm simply could not leave the players he has already recruited to West Lafayette, the high school seniors who have orally committed to Purdue or the ambitious administration that gave Brohm his opportunity in the Big Ten.
Jeff Brohm could not leave Purdue without completing the job he was hired to do. There wasn’t an easy decision or a right-and-wrong decision.
Tip your cap to Jeff Brohm over that position. I do.
Purdue is a world-class university. Its facilities are equal to Louisville’s facilities. Athletic director Mike Bobinski will spend as much money as Tyra will spend at Louisville (perhaps more for Brohm’s salary, thanks to Big Ten Network money).
The Boilermakers will play as many games on national television as the Cardinals will play on national TV. Notre Dame comes back on the Purdue schedule in 2021.
Go ahead make two columns on your legal pad. Debate the strengths and weaknesses of both places.
In the end, two years was too quick for a guy with old school sensibilities to leave Purdue. He would have been walking out without finishing the job that Bobinski and Purdue president Mitch Daniels recruited him to do.
Former Purdue players (like quarterback Drew Brees) and current Purdue players (like Trinity product Rondale Moore) have eagerly embraced Brohm’s vision of overtaking Northwestern, Iowa and Wisconsin in the Big Ten West.
He’s already bumped Purdue from three regular-season wins to six. But the promise has been to get to eight. Or nine. Or more.
This was never a two-year vision. More like a four-, five- or six-year vision. Brohm has just settled into West Lafayette.
Those are 1998 or even 1958 sensibilities, but those are the qualities that Oscar and Donna Brohm instilled in their 47-year-old son. Some candidates would have been parked in their new office at the Schnellenberger Football Complex 20 minutes after Tyra called with a substantial offer.
Jeff Brohm is not cut that way. He listened to Tyra’s substantial recruiting pitch, which included a face-to-face meeting in Indianapolis Tuesday. U of L’s offer was terrific, around $5 million per season. This was not a money decision.
Brohm discussed the pros and cons with his family as well as his advisers. He thought about it. Relentlessly.
There was much to like about Louisville. Brohm loves the U of L program. Always has. Always will.
Some of his favorite war stories are from the 1990 team that beat Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl or the 1993 squad that Brohm quarterbacked (with a broken thumb) past Michigan State in the Liberty Bowl.
Never forget Jeff Brohm is a guy who believed in Louisville football when the program played in a deteriorating minor-league baseball stadium without a conference affiliation. The only thing big time about Louisville football were the big words that Howard Schnellenberger delivered while puffing on his pipe.
That was 1988, when Brohm quarterbacked Trinity to a state championship — and then shocked the recruiting wise guys by deciding to play quarterback for Schnellenberger at Louisville instead of for Lou Holtz at Notre Dame, Larry Smith at USC or John Cooper at Ohio State.
What Catholic high school football quarterback says, “No, thanks,” to playing quarterback at Notre Dame?
Jeff Brohm did, just as he said, “No,” to coordinating Nick Saban’s offense at Alabama — twice — to work with Steve Kragthorpe at U of L. The Brohm Family — dad Oscar, brothers Greg and Brian as well as Jeff — have considerable sweat equity in Louisville’s success.
You can be disappointed that Brohm picked staying with Purdue over returning to Louisville this time to clean up the considerable mess left by Bobby Petrino.
But you should not be angry because the primary reason Brohm stayed at Purdue was to fulfill his commitment to Purdue — just as Schnellenberger stayed here 10 seasons before going to Oklahoma or Denny Crum stayed with the Louisville basketball program for three decades instead of returning to Los Angeles to coach UCLA, which was home.
You don’t leave a job before you finish a job.
As much as anything, that explains why Jeff Brohm will open the 2019 season coaching Purdue against Nevada instead of coaching Louisville against Notre Dame.
Disappointing? Sure. Worthy of respect? You bet.
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