Good job, Purdue. I think you’ve got yourself a good football coach.
The Boilermakers hired former Western Kentucky head coach (not to mention former Orlando Rage quarterback) Jeff Brohm on Monday. The 45-year-old coach is a Bobby Petrino disciple and, after taking over WKU from Petrino before the 2014 season, Brohm led the Hilltoppers to Conference-USA titles in 2015 and 2016 behind top-10 offenses.
The hire checks a lot of the collective boxes for Purdue. Energetic coach? Check. Potentially interesting recruiting ties? Check. History of success? It’s a short history as a head coach, but check. Innovative offense? Check.
“We want to play the game in a fun fashion, and we want to make it exciting to watch,” Brohm said. “We want to make it exciting to practice. We want to do things creative. We want to stay ahead of the curve. We want to be cutting edge, whatever we can do.”
Purdue needed a coach that could make Boilermaker football stand out. Brohm’s offense has the potential to do that, though rebuilding Purdue will be different than maintaining Western Kentucky. The recruiting piece of it will be interesting. WKU’s roster this season included around 40 players from Kentucky and another 20 from Florida with a good smattering of Georgia in the mix as well. Brohm, who played at Louisville, can absolutely recruit Kentucky from West Lafayette, but will those connections to the rest of the south remain strong? That will be a big, big part of this.
With Brohm’s hire, five of the Big Ten West teams have hired new coaches since the start of 2015, Northwestern and Iowa being the holdouts. It’s probably too early to truly assess those hires in any meaningful way, but here’s my general impression thus far:
WISCONSIN: Everyone knew Paul Chryst was a great fit for the Badgers, but who knew just how well it would work? Certainly not me. Chryst was 19-19 at Pitt and didn’t seem to be making much headway, but put him back in his hometown and all of the sudden he’s 20-6 in two years and won the division this season in a year when the Badgers were totally written off based on schedule. Based on result, this is the winner thus far.
NEBRASKA: Mike Riley has engineered a culture change and has made gains in recruiting, but on the field through two season Nebraska is basically as good as it was under the previous regime. So far. Still feels like this tenure could go either way. It is neither a home run nor a strikeout at this point.
MINNESOTA: With changes at the top of the athletic department complicating things, Minnesota seemed to reluctantly promote Tracy Claeys to head coach following Jerry Kill’s retirement but wasn’t willing to commit to Claeys long-term. He basically kept the Gophers at a Kill-era level in 2016, going 8-4 and landing a pretty good Holiday Bowl bid.
ILLINOIS: The Illini made a splashy hire with Lovie Smith and he quickly made some gains on defense, but recruiting hasn’t seen much of an uptick and there were reports mid-season that Smith was unhappy back in the college game. He came out and denied those reports, but it’s not like he was going to come out and confirm them. Just guessing here, but based on this first year I’ll be surprised if Smith is at Illinois four years from now.
Where do you slot Purdue’s hire? Hard to say since it just happened yesterday and it’s all based on speculation, but I think the conference as a whole definitely got better. That puts it near the top of that list above right from the start.
The Grab Bag
- A football Saturday in the life of Jim Delany.
- Butch Jones says the Vols’ lackluster finish to the season was “unacceptable.”
- Nathan Gerry was named first-team All-Big Ten by the Associated Press.
- Adam Rittenberg of ESPN examines the possibilities in an eight-team playoff.
- ESPN makes predictions for all 41 bowl games.
TODAY’S SONG OF TODAY
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.