Preview 2017: Did Purdue hire the guy who’ll scare the Big Ten?
Purdue appeared to get the right guy at the right time, and now the rest of the Big Ten has to worry.
Purdue hired the “aw, (bleep)” guy.
As in, when Big Ten coaches saw who the Boilermakers brought on, they had to have said, “aw (bleep), we have to deal with this now?”
No one’s thinking Purdue will turn into a Big Ten powerhouse and challenge for a College Football Playoff spot anytime soon. And no one with a working brain will reasonable assume that new head coach Jeff Brohm will be a lifer in West Lafayette if he has even the slightest bit of success. But this is the right coach with the right offense to throw a scare into the rest of the league.
Purdue can’t play it straight and win. It’s impossible for the program to hang in the recruiting wars with the Big Ten big boys, but what it proved it could do over the years is wing the ball around and put up big numbers.
Brohm isn’t exactly bringing back the Joe Tiller “basketball on grass” approach, but it won’t be far off, considering Western Kentucky was No. 1 in the nation last year in scoring, putting up 44 points or more in each of the last ten games on the way to a Conference USA title and a bowl win.
Willie Taggart and Bobby Petrino might have put the Hilltopper wheels in motion, but they didn’t win championships, and now they’re at Oregon and Louisville, respectively.
Brohm learned under Petrino at both Louisville and WKU, took over, and made the program rock, going 30-10 with his teams winning two conference titles and three bowl games – even if he didn’t coach in the last one. It’s about the system, and he’ll get better players to run it.
But more than that, his offense is a differentiating factor in a Big Ten West without a slew of big-time attacks. It’s going to give Purdue a positive identity it hasn’t enjoyed in a long, long time.
His teams were able to hang around with the big boys, beat Taggart’s USF team in the 2015 Miami Beach Bowl, and roar in big offensive performance after big offensive performance. And now, if this works, the Boilermakers won’t be a punching bag anymore.
It might take a year or so, though, before that all kicks in.
The talent level just isn’t there, considering former head man Darrell Hazell was in a perpetual holding pattern to keep his job. Transfers, JUCO types, and anyone and everyone who wants to be a part of the Brohm fun are welcome in to try fighting for jobs, but at least there’s experience in place.
David Blough is a bomber of a quarterback – even if he throws too many picks – but he needs better receivers around him and more from the offensive line. Getting back do-it-all back Markell Jones should help, but until the star receivers emerge, the offense isn’t going to take off quite yet.
The defense can’t help but be better. Co-coordinators Nick Holt and Anthony Poindexter are terrific, the linebacking corps could sneakily be among the best in the Big Ten West – helped by the addition of WKU transfer T.J. McCollum – and there are a few nice parts – like end Gelen Robinson – to build around.
In the end, it’s all about the offense. The defense will eventually be stronger, but the Boilermakers are going to win/lose games 48-45 and make every game a battle.
Purdue football is going to be fun again. That’s not what the other Big Ten coaches were hoping for with the new hire.