BOZICH | Jeff Brohm: Terrific football coach -- terrific poker player

By Rick Bozich

WDRB Sports

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) — Purdue defeated Indiana, 28-21, to retain the Old Oaken Bucket Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.

Go crazy, Boilermakers’ fans. You’re bound for a bowl game, likely in Yankee Stadium.

Now, stop going crazy.

Now Purdue (6-6) must defeat Louisville for a more important prize — keeping Brohm from accepting the hometown attraction of replacing Bobby Petrino as the head coach at the school where he once played quarterback.

Brohm’s future was Topics A, B, C, D and E before and after the game, one that the Boilermakers won on the strength of two touchdowns by another Louisville-area guy — former Trinity High School receiver Rondale Moore.

If you're looking for a Hot Take, here it is:

Jeff Brohm is as good at playing poker as he is at coaching football. And as a coach Brohm has now directed all five of his teams to bowl games. This season he brought Purdue back from a shaky 0-3 start, while delivering victories over three ranked teams, including a monstrous thumping of Ohio State.

Jeff Brohm has all the leverage in this dance with his alma mater.  You can expect him to artfully use it while pushing his salary from $3.8 million to somewhere over $5 million. Whether that is at Louisville or Purdue, that depends upon who you ask and when you ask them. The people who know aren't saying -- and only a few actually know.

During his post-game media session, Brohm talked like a guy who loves the direction of his Purdue program. But he is not ready to close the door on a return to Louisville, a program that clearly needs the character, integrity and imagination Brohm can bring.

Which, of course, is precisely what Brohm needed to say to get both programs to make him their best offers.

He succeeded -- first by expressing his excitement and appreciation for Purdue.

Brohm outlined his optimistic vision for Purdue football -- adding more playmakers during recruiting, winning more than six games and upgrading facilities. Somebody asked Brohm if he planned to be part of that exciting vision.

"Yes, I’m looking forward to it," he said. 

"Going back to when I took the job, a lot of people told me, 'No,' which made me want to do it even more. People in leadership here showed me a vision. I felt confident in what they were saying. I actually did want to come here and try to make a difference.

"I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. And it's not. I knew we were going to have to work at it and prove our worth. But that’s what makes you work, what drives you to get there a little early and stay a little bit later.

"This is a program that has a long history, a long tradition. We’ve got to get it back and try to become a competitive team in the Big Ten that maybe can inch forward each year and get back in the mix and see where we can go from there."

Go crazy, again, Purdue fans. But then listen to Brohm's answer when I asked if Louisville fans who want Brohm as the Cardinals' next coach should give up on that idea.

"I want Louisville to do what’s best for them," Brohm said. "I’m a fan. Right now I’m the coach at Purdue and this is where I want to be. And I like it here."

That's not yes.

That's not no. 

That's negotiating. In an world where coaches get fired after two or three seasons, you're fortunate to have the upper hand two or three times in your career. Three years ago, when Brohm was just starting to make his name at Western Kentucky, he couldn't get big-time programs to return his call. 

Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski said that U of L administrators have not asked for permission to talk to Brohm, who has six seasons remaining on his contract.

Remember this: Louisville needs Brohm more than Brohm needs Louisville.

That’s not Brohm’s take. That is my take as well as the take of anybody who understands Negotiating 101.

Brohm has a job he loves in a Power Five conference. He’s already two years into the building process backed by an ambitious athletic director who aspires to make Purdue a formidable power in the Big Ten West, the more user friendly side of the league. Purdue's football tradition is considerable as a program that has won and produced guys like Drew Brees, Rob Ninkovich, Rod Woodson, Bob Griese and others. 

Advantage Brohm. Purdue is not a job he has to leave to get to a Tier One job or the NFL. Brohm has the leverage.

Why wouldn’t he use it?

Be prepared for conflicting narratives. Be prepared for whispers that Louisville will low-ball Brohm, who made $3.8 million this season in his second season at Purdue on a contract that includes six more seasons.

Not so fast. Another source close to the situation said Brohm is asking for more than $5 million per season, a substantial number for a Louisville athletic program already awash in buyout obligations.

The message from yet another source was this: “Louisville didn’t low ball him. He asked for a ton and Purdue is increasing his deal.

“It doesn’t mean he isn’t coming. It just means it isn’t as cut and dried as people think.”

As I said, Negotiating 101. Get ready for it.

Also remember this: Purdue is prepared to match Louisville dollar for dollar -- and the Boilermakers have the Big Ten Network money to do it.

Should be a fun few days as Brohm has more to consider than where the Boilermakers will play their bowl game (likely the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Dec. 27) after improving to 6-6 by defeating the Hoosiers.

Purdue scored first on an 11-yard touchdown pass from David Blough to Isaac Zico in the southeast corner of the end zone at Memorial Stadium. Indiana had the Boilermakers stopped on third down but a roughing the passer penalty against Allen Stallings resulted in a first down that extended the Purdue possession.

Indiana tied the game in the second quarter when freshman halfback Stevie Scott ran 8 yards for his 10th touchdown this season.

If not for one player, Scott would be considered the best freshman offensive player in the Big Ten. That player performs for Brohm — Moore, the New Albany native who played his final two seasons at Trinity.

Moore turned his 99th reception into his 11th touchdown when he crackled 56 yards through the Indiana defense in the second quarter.

Purdue’s dominance continued in the second half. Moore scored another touchdown on a 33-yard strike from Blough. Indiana cut the lead to 21-14 when quarterback Peyton Ramsey ran 23 yards for IU’s second touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

Purdue needed less than four minutes to push the Boilermakers' lead back to two touchdowns. IU made it 28-21 on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Ramsey to Nick Westbrook with 1:17 to play.

That was all the scoring. Purdue won. Purdue kept the Old Oaken Bucket.

Now can Purdue keep Jeff Brohm -- or can Louisville recruit him away?

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