Louisville is finalizing plans to bring Jeff Brohm home.
The Louisville native and alum, one of four family members to play football for the Cardinals, is expected to be named the program’s new head coach this week, sources told Sports Illustrated. Details were being firmed up Tuesday but sources said it was not finalized at that point.
The job abruptly came open Monday when Scott Satterfield left for Cincinnati, a move hardly anyone saw coming until it happened. Athletic director Josh Heird moved quickly, because Brohm was the obvious choice for a job he has seemed destined to hold for years.
Brohm turned the job down once before, in 2018, an agonizing decision at the time. He was just two years into his tenure at Purdue and explained he didn’t feel like the timing was right to leave. Now, coming off a Big Ten West Division championship and a 17–9 record over the past two seasons, the 51-year-old can leave the Boilermakers in much better shape than he found them.
Brohm is not coming cheaply, leaving a job where he was making $5 million a year and has a $1 million buyout owed to Purdue if he leaves for another school. He was due a retention bonus of $600,000 on Dec. 31, which also had to be taken into consideration. Heird said at a Monday press conference that Louisville could not pay in the $8–$10 million range, which is becoming more common in college football, but that the school could afford to hire the coach it wants.
That is Brohm, a star quarterback at Louisville under Howard Schnellenberger when the program was first gaining relevance in the early 1990s. Brohm’s father, Oscar, was a starting QB for the Cardinals in the mid-’60s. His younger brother Brian was a star QB at the school in the early 2000s. And Jeff threw passes to older brother Greg at Louisville. Jeff later was the quarterbacks coach under Bobby Petrino, tutoring Brian.
In terms of understanding a school and having an emotional connection to it, there could be no greater fit than Jeff Brohm and Louisville. It will resonate with a fan base that has seen a succession of successful coaches jilt the Cardinals for other jobs: Schnellenberger left for Oklahoma; John. L. Smith for Michigan State; Petrino for the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL; Charlie Strong for Texas; and Satterfield for Cincinnati.
But, for the first time, Louisville is poised to snag a current head coach of another Power 5 school. His first priority will be roster maintenance, with the transfer market flooded after the portal reopened Monday. His second will be trying to hold together a surprisingly strong recruiting class that is ranked No. 21 nationally, according to rivals.com.
Brohm’s career record is 66–44, including three seasons at Western Kentucky. He is 36–34 at Purdue, 26–25 in Big Ten play. The Boilers’ nine wins in 2021 were their most since ’03. He’s 4–1 against in-state rival Indiana, which should resonate with a Louisville fan base that was disenchanted with Satterfield’s 0–3 record against Kentucky.
Purdue’s next move is unclear, although one option could be offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Brohm. The 37-year-old has worked alongside his brother at Western Kentucky and Purdue and was the interim coach for one game in 2020 when Jeff was out with COVID-19. Brian led the Boilermakers to a win over Iowa in the season opener.