Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Signature hire

Yes, yes, yes, all you long-suffering Purdue football fans. You coulda had Les Miles. And you've never heard of this Jeff Brohm guy.

Two names, Boilermaker Nation: Fred Akers and Joe Tiller.

Fred Akers was Les Miles 1.0, the name coach from a big school (Texas) who came to Purdue and realized Purdue wasn't Texas -- which is to say, he failed spectacularly. Lasted four years, went 12-31-1, went 9-23 in the Big Ten. A bad fit in much the way Miles would have been, with his prehistoric smash-mouth offense coming to us live from the 1970s.

And Tiller?

No Purdue fan had heard of Tiller, either, until he came out of Wyoming and commenced winning with a spread offense uniquely suited to Purdue's football culture. Quarterback U. plus an offense that threw it all over the lot was a dream match, culminating in Purdue's first trip to the Rose Bowl in 35 years.

Brohm may not be that, exactly. As with failed predecessor Darrell Hazell, the sample size is impressive but small: Three seasons at Western Kentucky, a 30-10 record (including 10-3 this season), two conference titles and three bowl appearances. Because he was only there three seasons, it remains an open question whether he can win with his own recruits as opposed to players from the previous regime headed by Bobby Petrino.

But if certain programs have certain signatures, Brohm at least would seem to fit Purdue's. This season, Western Kentucky averaged 45.1 points, 336.8 passing yards and 517.4 total yards. Those numbers rank second, fifth and seventh nationally, respectively.

So offense is Brohm's thing, as it was with Tiller. And he's a former quarterback, which will hardly make him an outlier at Quarterback U. Hard to imagine anyone fitting the Purdue signature more hand-in-glove.

Whether he can sell that signature to the kind of talent that can take it national again, of course, remains to be seen. But it always does with a new coach.

And so the skeptics, who've already acquired the Twitter domain @fireJeffBrohm, will have their say for the moment.

Until circumstances either bear them out, or don't.

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