Jeff Brohm deserves credit for his honesty -- and Purdue needs a plan
Coaching, especially at the collegiate level, is a haven for telling half-truths … or less.
The king of college coaches, Nick Saban, has also shown himself to be an expert. Saban famously pronounced he wouldn’t be leaving the Miami Dolphins to coach at Alabama — until he did 12 days later.
So when a coach actually comes out and gives us some unvarnished truth, it deserves praise even if it makes some people uncomfortable.
And in the wake of comments Purdue coach Jeff Brohm recently made in his hometown of Louisville, there are 3 groups of people that should be very uncomfortable right now: Purdue administrators, Boilermakers fans and current Louisville coach Scott Satterfield.
Speaking to a group of alumni from his father’s high school, Brohm was asked about why he passed on the Louisville job the last time it came open. And it became clear those circumstances won’t be in play the next time it is vacant.
“After being at Purdue [only] 2 years when it came open, that was a tough call. Tough call.
To be quite honest, through my schooling and how I was raised, I believe in at least trying to do the right thing and having morals and values. It just was too early to leave. It just wasn’t right.
You build relationships. People treat you right. The people there have treated me great. You talk to recruits and they asked me things. Just a lot of things went into it.
But, obviously, now we’re on Year 6. I love this town, this area. I’m an alumnus of Louisville. So anything can happen in the future.”
Brohm’s message brings all the subtlety of the Thunder Over Louisville fireworks show. This is his hometown, and the Cardinals are his dream job.
This is no smokescreen
It’s a tough pill to swallow for Purdue fans, who must now realize they are living on borrowed time. But surely they’ve been mentally prepared for the moment to come at some point. Brohm’s name has appeared on various coaching wish lists since the Boilermakers de-pantsed No. 2 Ohio State in 2018.
That said, this is a strange occurrence at Purdue, which has always been a destination job. The last time a Boilers coach left for another head coaching position was 1947, when Cecil Isbell was hired by the expansion Baltimore Colts. (Who knew? The Colts were rooted in Indiana from the start.)
Typically, we’d chalk up comments like these as more coach-speak. Just Brohm swinging significant leverage to bleed more money out of Purdue.
But that’s clearly not what’s happening here.
Purdue announced a new contract extension for Brohm on April 8. Nothing has happened over the course of the past 5 weeks for him to say “Yanno, let me up the ante.”
He loves being at Purdue. For now. And strictly for now.
At some point, if the circumstances allow it, Brohm is decamping West Lafayette for Louisville. That moment could very well be as soon as 2023.
The Boilers are very capable of winning what will be a wide-open Big Ten West.
Satterfield’s Louisville team, on the other hand, is very capable of not being good. The Cardinals are 10-14 over the past 2 seasons.
Even more disastrously, Satterfield interviewed for the South Carolina job after Louisville’s 4-7 season in 2020. Louisville fans don’t appear to have forgiven him. Games against Clemson and Kentucky were the only times Cardinal Stadium came within 10,000 of capacity in 2021.
Boilermakers fans need to prepare themselves to enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts. Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski, on the other hand, needs to prepare for what’s next.
Purdue has the ability to plan ahead
The value of Brohm’s honesty is that it puts Purdue in far better shape than most comparable situations. Just look at Oklahoma, which got the double-whammy of Lincoln Riley leaving unexpectedly and then raiding the roster to join him at Southern California.
Bobinski has the ability to create a shortlist of candidates. Whether he needs their help in a year or it takes another 4, a plan is paramount. Brohm may even have some ideas on who would be best suited to keep his offensive system humming. It’s pretty clear he wants what’s best for Purdue in the long run.
But this situation is reminiscent of an Alabama coaching legend that pre-dates Saban. When Bear Bryant left Texas A&M to return to his alma mater in 1958, his reasoning was thus: “Mama called. And when mama calls, you just have to come running.”
Brohm will be ready when mama calls. And thanks to his transparency, Purdue will be ready to make some calls of its own.