Building a Bond and Reaching Potential
Well ladies and gentlemen, Jeff Brohm got his first signature win at Purdue. The aftermath has left me in a state in which I can’t stop reading postgame wrap-ups & opinion pieces about the contest. I also cannot pull myself away from watching highlights and replays of the game (I’m on viewing #5, by the way).
The other side of this coin, is that the Jeff Brohm is officially the smokin’ hottie in the hallways of the college football world. Everyone notices coach Brohm now. In the last 24 hours, I’ve read that Brohm will be hired by Louisville, Ohio State and others in this off-season. The problem with these opinions is there are many hurdles that have to be breached before those scenarios are even a possibility.
The really bad news for you, fellow Purdue fan, is that Jeff Brohm is going to be wooed by everybody this offseason. It isn’t a question of if it will happen, but when will Brohm be offered a boatload of cash at a blueblood program?
The good news is that he is singing sweet music to us right now. He said he loves the challenge that’s been presented to him at Purdue. Taking this job, and subsequently winning more than he’s losing, is a sign that he is exactly the right guy for the program. The smile on his face after Saturday’s game and his account of not being able to go to sleep until early the next morning, are signs that this is fun for him. But he hasn’t even come close to reaching his potential at Purdue.
I am making one request of Coach Brohm and his staff today: Please don’t leave Purdue until you feel like you’ve reached this program’s ceiling under your leadership. That ceiling is near the edge of the atmosphere above West Lafayette, at this point.
Building a Foundation
Mike Bobinski has kept the communication lines open with Coach Brohm. He’s already renegotiated Brohm’s contract into a salary that placed him in the middle of the conference after just one 7 win season (7 years, $29mil. before incentives). Bobinski and Berghoff both say that the contract renegotiation was a result of Purdue exceeding expectations in one season. If Purdue can beat MSU on Saturday, this squad will be one win from a bowl bid in 2018, and one giant leap ahead of last season’s results…with lots of football yet to be played.
Atop of Brohm getting a raise, his staff also got a solid pay bump last April. For instance, Coach Holt, the highest paid member of this staff, had a 24% increase in salary, and is now paid over $600,000 per year. The entire staff got a raise, at the request of their boss. Coach Brohm understands that his salary is just one piece of the puzzle. His staff needs to be paid in step with the market…AND, everyone needs to feel like they fit.
Are there dangers in renegotiating contracts every season? Sure. But the risk of not renegotiating contracts to pay this staff what they are worth in the current market outweigh the small risk of potential overpayment. In my opinion, we’re not close to the latter scenario.
I don’t think a $5million per year base salary for Brohm, with a $4.5mil/year assistant pool is over payment for this staff. I also think a decreasing $10-15 million annual decreasing buyout should be on the table. Nothing will stop potential poachers from sniffing around…but numbers like these are a signal from the university of this coaching staff’s importance to the University, and the unprecedented investment that Purdue is willing to make.
Brohm has said multiple times that he isn’t at Purdue because of the money, but because he wants to defy the college sports nay-sayers and make Purdue a winner. He’s doing that…the next step of his self-imposed challenge is to make Purdue a championship-earning program. Not lower level bowls, but conference championships and maybe even more.
It’s crazy to hear that this Purdue team is now being talked about as a potential divisional champ. And in our afterglow of last Saturday’s victory, it’s easy to forget the debacle of the EMU loss and the 0-3 start of this campaign. Coach Brohm might have even surprised you yesterday when he said that he really doesn’t want to play aOSU again later this season. He’s no dodo. He also heaped respect upon Meyer’s Buckeyes prior to kickoff to his team in the lockerroom. He knows that aOSU, a top-10 7-1 team with horses throughout their roster is still a far-off aspiration…in spite of what we saw on Saturday night.
A rematch in December is simply crazy talk at this point…lots of football remains in front of both teams, but Purdue and this staff knows that taking every game as a one-game season is the only approach that makes any sense.
The Best of Purdue
Our Friend Tyler Trent represents the best of Purdue…we all get that. But the rally around him represents the most organized love fest that I’ve ever seen. Purdue, the state of Indiana and the nation values this Boilermaker as a man so much, that we see football as secondary…even as we enjoy the benefits of a massive upset.
THIS level of support is unprecedented for the Purdue family…not for Purdue’s football program, but for someone fighting for his life. After the victory, you probably saw the faces of Kirk Barron, DJ Knox and others. The win was nice, but Tyler’s victory of simply getting to the stadium was monumental…a life changer for a bunch of 20-something athletes. How do you keep fighting hard for football victories, after you’ve realized that football is not that important in the grand scheme of things? I dunno. It’s also tough to understand that without football, none of the real life victories would have ever happened.
Coach Brohm’s biggest challenge as Purdue’s coach so far might be shaping this emotion and reminding the players that the season isn’t over and their goals haven’t been reached. They were part of something special, something truly great last Saturday, but they have work that needs to be done still. Avoiding an easy letdown in East Lansing is the next challenge for the Brohm boys, Coach Holt, Poindexter, Shepherd and co. They rode a wave of emotion last Saturday. Now they need to exude professionalism and resolve. This could be a tough gear to switch.
All of that said, I’m pretty confident it can be done.
Where he grew up versus a newly-built Home
I read yesterday that Coach Brohm still has a home in Louisville. It makes sense, really. His Dad still lives there, his kids were born there, and he has the money to maintain two homes. His roots are still in Louisville.
That said, he cultivated something pretty special in West Lafayette on Saturday night. Watch the tape, look at the faces of Coach Brohm, his wife, the players and the Purdue faithful following the victory. The Brohm family gets it: This time, this season, this place was where they should be. My hope is that ‘Coach’ Brady Brohm and his little sister have grown to love the Lafayette area in just under two years as well. The little things in life can make a big difference.
I talked on Twitter yesterday that my ideal situation is to see Coach Brohm become the Barry Alvarez or Kirk Ferentz of Purdue University. Both of those guys became darlings of college football coaching searches in the late 90s and oughts…both stuck to their new homes as suitors came calling. Both built programs with identities that now have defined cultures due to their leadership.
I might be dreaming, but I think it’s possible for (Coach) Jeff to surpass both Jack and Joe in the annals of Purdue football. But before any of that to happen, Purdue needs to get past the buzz of this initial success.
On Twitter, many Purdue fans have already resigned themselves to a scenario in which Coach Brohm is only here for a short time. I’m hoping that’s not the case. I believe in Coach Brohm as a Purdue guy…and I believe in the administration and trustees (for the first time in decades), as a group that understands the importance of building a football program as an integral part of a bigger plan for the university.
Hopefully Saturday night’s victory will prove to be a galvanization, strengthening and pivotal moment in the minds and hearts of all involved. Time will tell the story.