WEST LAFAYETTE – The first time Louisville recruited Jeff Brohm, the deal was done before it even started.
“His recruitment was a gimme,” said former Louisville coach Howard Schnellenberger, the one who convinced Brohm to stay home and play quarterback for the Cards instead of taking more high-profile offers like Notre Dame. “They lived in Louisville all their lives. He wasn’t going anywhere. He was a Cardinal before he got in school.”
Nearly three decades later, Louisville’s attempt to bring Brohm back home followed a different script.
Wednesday evening, Brohm opted to pass on an offer from Louisville to become its next football coach and instead stay in West Lafayette for a third season.
“This has been a very difficult and emotional decision for me and my family,” Brohm wrote in a statement. “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 to me, the timing was not ideal.”
"I believe 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 fo reaching out to me. As a former Cardinal player and coach, I want nothing but the best for the University of Louisville."
Almost immediately after Louisville fired Bobby Petrino two weeks ago, Brohm became the name everyone circled. He grew up in Louisville and led Trinity High School to a state championship. His father, Oscar, played at Louisville. Both of his brothers, Greg and Brian, played at Louisville. In this way, this was not just a decision Jeff made for himself, but one that brought his entire family tree back to its roots.
The last two weeks have been, by all accounts, an agonizing period for Brohm as he weighed his options. Go home to where his family is considered the “first family of Louisville football”? Or stay at Purdue, sign a top 25 recruiting class on Dec. 19 and watch the seeds that were planted over the last two years bear fruit?
Ultimately, Brohm chose the latter.
During his first two seasons at Purdue, Brohm built the solid foundation on which successful programs thrive. His 7-6 record last year and 6-6 record this year might seem like modest production. But it’s not when you consider the Boilermakers won just nine games in the four years before Brohm arrived.
With mostly the last regime’s recruits, players whose only Power Five offers came from Purdue, Brohm and the Boilers pulled off upsets over Boston College, Iowa and – one of the most improbable upsets of the year – against Ohio State.
Keeping Brohm at Purdue was critical for a number of reasons. It maintains consistency in a program that needed some. It helps Purdue stay on the trajectory that Brohm set. It enables Purdue maintain the head start it has over Big Ten West teams like Nebraska and Minnesota, who are in the midst of rebuilds of their own.
But one of the most important reasons for Purdue to keep Brohm is the 2019 recruiting class.
The haul features five four-star recruits. As a whole it ranks in the top 25. Had Brohm gone to Louisville, the early signing period would have made it a challenge to sign much of any class. Now, with this class coming in, there’s real optimism that Purdue can compete for the Big Ten West – maybe more.
Now, it's Brohm's turn to start making his recruiting pitch. And he'll do it in gold and black.