Jeff Brohm turns down alma mater Louisville to remain head coach at Purdue

Yahoo Sports
Jeff Brohm turned down a chance to be Louisville’s football coach, per Yahoo Sports sources. (AP)
Jeff Brohm turned down a chance to be Louisville’s football coach, per Yahoo Sports sources. (AP)

Jeff Brohm’s Louisville homecoming took a last-minute U-turn Wednesday. Brohm has turned down an opportunity to become the new football coach at his alma mater and hometown school, choosing instead to stay with Purdue.

The decision is a huge win for Purdue football, which had been downtrodden for a decade between the retirement of Joe Tiller and arrival of Brohm in 2017. Likewise, it is a stinging setback for a Louisville program that had crashed to 2-10 this year and fired Bobby Petrino, hoping to replace him with an ascending coaching star with life-long ties to the school.

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Purdue is believed to have sweetened Brohm’s current $4 million per-year deal to as much as $6 million annually, while offering additional incentives to stay. Louisville was believed to have made an offer of seven years and $35 million.

Brohm gave an official statement to Yahoo Sports on Wednesday evening explaining his decision.

“This has been a very difficult and emotional decision for me and my family. We are extremely happy at Purdue and thankful for the opportunity to lead this program. After intense and thorough discussion, I believe it is important to finish the building process we have begun and honor the commitment I made to our football program, players, and recruits. While going home was very appealing and meaningful to me, the timing was not ideal. I believe that remaining at Purdue is the right thing to do, and I am excited for the challenges ahead. I want to thank the University of Louisville and Vince Tyra for reaching out and expressing their interest in me. As a former Cardinal player and coach, I want nothing but the best for the University of Louisville. Under the leadership of President Neeli Bendapudi and Vince Tyra, the future of the university is in great hands. I also want to thank all Cardinal fans for their support over the years.”

Louisville’s search could next turn toward Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield, a proven winner with a 50-24 record at the school, but he would be viewed by Louisville fans as a significant step down after pinning their hopes on landing Brohm.

The decision marked the end of an angst-ridden 24 hours for Brohm, who met with Tyra, the Louisville athletic director, on Tuesday. Late Tuesday night, signs were pointing toward Brohm coming home to coach the Cardinals – sources told Yahoo Sports that Purdue was preparing to put a search for a new coach in motion. Wednesday morning, Brohm did not make a scheduled recruiting trip, furthering speculation that he was leaving the Boilermakers.

But after spending a few hours in the Purdue football offices, Brohm made no declaration one way or other. It wasn’t until late Wednesday afternoon that a decision was reached.

Leaving ultimately became an impossibility for Brohm, who has a good relationship with Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski and was the beneficiary of huge facility upgrades and has recruited remarkably well – the star recruit being freshman wide receiver Rondale Moore, who is, ironically, a graduate of Louisville Trinity High School. Sources close to Brohm described him earlier in the week as “torn” and said he was struggling to come to a decision.

This could have been the second time Brohm was hailed as a local hero for Louisville football. He chose to play quarterback there for Howard Schnellenberger in 1990 despite offers from more established programs, and finished his college career with 5,451 yards and 38 touchdowns. But this choice loomed even larger. The fan base had become apathetic as Petrino’s program spiraled to the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference in the wake of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson’s departure.

“While Jeff and I had a terrific conversation about the future of the University of Louisville football program and how he could play a role in our success, it was clear that his heart and mind were still with fulfilling his commitment to Purdue,” Tyra said in an official statement later Wednesday.

Brohm’s record at Purdue is just 13-12, but he inherited a Boilermakers program that was at a low ebb and immediately made it competitive. His reputation for offensive creativity and quarterback development has put him in demand. Brohm’s signature Purdue moment to date was its shocking blowout of then-No. 2 Ohio State earlier this season when David Blough, who led the nation in interceptions the year before Brohm arrived, shredded the Buckeyes for 378 yards and three touchdowns. Brohm also has a No. 24 recruiting class lined up at Purdue, according to Rivals.com – far exceeding the program’s normal status.

Brohm’s 2016 Western Kentucky team led the nation in scoring, and the Hilltoppers finished third nationally in 2015. Brohm is known for innovation, often grabbing plays he’s seen in NFL games on Sunday and installing them that week. He’s also known for his fearless calling of trick plays and a gambling style.

Executing Plan B will be critical for Tyra, who engineered the popular hire of Chris Mack to replace Hall of Fame basketball coach Rick Pitino. Landing a football coach who sells tickets and returns the program to Atlantic Coast Conference relevance will help a scandal-battered university creep toward a new normal in the wake of the federal investigation that led to the ouster of Pitino and former athletic director Tom Jurich.

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