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Jeff Brohm forges lasting Purdue legacy. What's next?

Jeff Brohm has authored an impressive list of accomplishments since taking over the program in 2017. Could this be his best year?
Jeff Brohm has authored an impressive list of accomplishments since taking over the program in 2017. Could this be his best year? (USA Today)

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Jack Mollenkopf is the gold standard for Purdue football coaches. Joe Tiller is close behind. And Jim Young set a high standard, too.

Then, there’s Jeff Brohm.

He has a shot to join the aforementioned pantheon of standout coaches in West Lafayette, having already forged a strong resume as he enters his sixth season.

Honestly, Brohm already deserves to stand shoulder to shoulder with Purdue's holy trinity of coaches based on his rehab of the wrecked program he took over in 2017 after arriving from Western Kentucky.

Brohm has flipped what had become a tragic script in West Lafayette. How bad were the Boilermakers the four seasons before Brohm? Purdue went 9-39 overall and 3-30 in the Big Ten.

Some of the highlights of the Brohm reclamation project:

• First nine-win season in 2021 since 2003

• Three bowls in five seasons

• Two bowl wins

• Epic wins vs. two No. 2-ranked teams and a No. 3

• First AP poll ranking since 2007

• 3-1 vs. Indiana in Old Oaken Bucket series

• 4-1 vs. Illinois in Cannon series

• First, first-round NFL draft pick since 2011 in George Karlaftis

• Three NFL picks in 2022 NFL draft, first time since 2008

• Eight NFL picks in last five drafts

On and on it has gone for Brohm, who embraced the challenges at Purdue instead of running away from them.

Bottom line: Brohm saved Purdue football.

He has made Purdue matter. He has given hope to what had been a hopeless cause.

With a $5.1 million salary in 2022, Brohm probably is underpaid, given what he has accomplished and the value a strong football program means to a school's athletic department. It's scary to think where the athletic department would be had Brohm been a flop.

What's next?

Some whisper Purdue has a legit shot again to win nine games in 2022 ... and perhaps the West Division with what may be Brohm's best Boilermaker team yet.

“You never know,” said Brohm this summer. “I think we've made progress. I think we got better overall as a team. You'd like to be able to build upon that. But it's a competitive conference. We got a competitive schedule.”

The West Division appears to be wide open, with Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota all looking like possible champs. So, why not Purdue? Are those teams THAT much better than the Boilermakers?


“We've got to have a little luck go our way, we gotta win the injury battle and try not to get some of our key guys injured,” said Brohm. “We gotta get guys healthy. I mean, everything matters.

"Do we want to improve and do some great things? Yes, but I do think we have some experience in certain positions. We have more depth at certain positions than we've ever had. Do we have the star power that we've occasionally had? Maybe not, but we have a nucleus of guys that I think are all trying to get to that status."

Improving Purdue's chances for 2022 success: A favorable schedule, with title hopes possibly boiling down to how well the Boilers perform in what looks like a make-or-break October that includes trips to Minnesota and Maryland, a visit from Nebraska and a game at Wisconsin.

Perhaps the only obstacle for Brohm cementing a legacy on par with Mollenkopf and Tiller is this: Will he stay in West Lafayette, where he has gone 28-29 overall and 20-22 in the Big Ten in five years?

Since 1947, the only Purdue coaches with a better winning percentage than Brohm's .491 are the aforementioned Mollenkopf (.670), Young (.664) and Tiller (.584).

You get the picture.

Brohm will leave Purdue one day. The siren song of Louisville, his alma mater, always whales. Maybe he'll land elsewhere. Brohm almost bolted after the 2018 season, but he felt too much loyalty to leave Purdue after just two seasons.

Good move.

Brohm stayed and continued to build, fighting through one of the worst losses in school annals in the 2018 Music City Bowl, enduring a disappointing 2019 and bumpy 2020 ruined by COVID to propel the program on an exciting, upward trajectory that has the fan base buzzing.

This could be Brohm’s defining season, the campaign that not only solidifies what he is building for Purdue but also a year that could add a layer to a Purdue legacy that may end up with Brohm being remembered as one of the one or two best Boilermaker coaches ever.

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