Iowa Football

Iowa football look ahead: Purdue fought for its life in the offseason (OK, it kept its coach)

The Purdue program made head coach Jeff Brohm a rich man in the offseason, now for the hard part

Purdue Boilermakers head coach Jeff Brohm. (Mike Carter/USA TODAY Sports)
Purdue Boilermakers head coach Jeff Brohm. (Mike Carter/USA TODAY Sports)
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Purdue fought for its life in the offseason. There were no car chases, no dragons, nothing cinematic. All it took was 36.8 million soldiers to march into Jeff Brohm’s future and set up camp.

 
Just two years into his time as Purdue’s head coach, Brohm has had offseason overtures from Tennessee and, last year, Louisville.

Louisville was going to be the one for Brohm. He’s a Louisville, Ky., native. He played quarterback for the Cardinals (2003-06). He got his coaching start with Louisville. He even coached the Louisville Fire in the AF2 arena league.

The Purdue football community held its collective breath.

Louisville came heavy. Brohm was smart. He didn’t let this drift too much into the Boilermakers’ recruiting. On Nov. 28, Brohm agreed to a deal to stay at Purdue.

And what a deal it is.

The total value of Brohm’s new contract is $36.8 million over the seven years, which includes supplemental income, base salary, retention bonuses and the signing bonus.

Yes, that is a lot of money. At $3.8 million per year, Brohm is the 27th-highest paid coach in the country (Kirk Ferentz still is hanging at No. 17 and $4.7 million).

You know what this says about Purdue football. It likes winning and it wants to keep doing that.

Let’s roll with the Purdue marching band’s giant bass drum for a second:

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Before Brohm (B.B.), the Boilermakers’ program slogged through two hires that didn’t work, to put it mildly. Danny Hope did take the Boilers to the Little Ceaser’s and Heart of Dallas Bowls. He was fired in 2012 after 6-6 record.

Darrell Hazell came in from Kent State in 2013. He won three Big Ten games in 3 1/2 seasons and was fired midway through 2016.

Bad Purdue was a huge part of the “Big Ten West sucks” narrative. In 2016, during Hazell’s last moribund run, a sinkhole opened in one of the end zones at Ross-Ade Stadium.

Now it’s A.B. (And, yes, Brohm is just 13-13 at Purdue, but this contract is more about fighting off the market and 13-13 at Purdue is good.)

Brohm has taken Purdue to bowl games in each of his first two seasons (Foster Farms and Music City). No one is calling Purdue a contender in the Big Ten West yet, but it has beaten Iowa in the last two years.

That’s what happens when your division keeps good coaches. The division improves. Is Purdue the difference between “Big Ten West sucks” and “OK, Big Ten West is cool?” No, but it sure helps. It also helps that Nebraska got its “forever coach” in Scott Frost. And did you guys see that Minnesota beat Wisconsin in the “Paul Bunyan’s axe” game? What if P.J. Fleck works at Minnesota?

Purdue wants to be the Purdue that beat Iowa and Ohio State last season. Not “Sinkhole State.” Brohm is enjoying the success. That’s a seven-year, $36.8 million contract.

You can’t say “Purdue is here to stay.” You just can’t yet. The strides this program has made are apparent and the Big Ten West is better for it.

Purdue skill players

Rondale Moore.

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OK, we’re legally required to say more than just the guy’s first name. Last season, Moore became the first true freshman consensus All-American in Big Ten history. The 5-9, 180-pound wide receiver caught 114 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 TDs. He averaged 10.1 yards on 21 rushes and scored two more TDs. He also led the Boilers in punt and kick returns.

Two more years of Moore in the Big Ten.

You remember quarterback Elijah Sindelar. He got hot in the second half at Kinnick in 2017 and threw three TD passes in a nice upset for the Boilers. Last month, he was granted a sixth year by the NCAA after missing most of last season with knee and abdomen injuries.

Purdue defense

In the season finale against Indiana, nose tackle Lorenzo Neal suffered a torn ACL. He’ll return, but you win the Big Ten West with defensive lines. That is a setback.

Purdue might have an A.J. Epenesa on its defensive line. George Karlaftis is a 6-4, 260-pound true freshman defensive end. He had 137 offers, but he graduated from West Lafayette (Ind) High School, so he’s a Boiler. He’s a defensive end-type who might be able to move around.

Markus Bailey is Purdue’s lead linebacker. He gives the Boilers’ defense a chance to return to the 2017 form that made it a bowl team and a surprise in the West. Last season, the defense was a problem.

Super hot, possibly relevant take on this game that’s 100-something days away: If Iowa can hold up at corner, it has a shot. It hasn’t held up at corner vs. Brohm. In the last two meetings, Brohm, a former QB who played in the XFL, has sent speed at the Iowa secondary and in two games has come up with a 65 percent completion percentage (45 of 69), 562 yards and seven TD passes to just two picks.

Seems like a pattern.

Hawkeyes Look Ahead

Oct. 19 vs. Purdue at Kinnick Stadium

Week before: Penn State at Kinnick.

On the horizon: At Northwestern (Ryan Field, which should have a revamp coming anytime)

For Purdue

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Week before: Maryland at Purdue (Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Ind.)

On the horizon: Illinois at Ross-Ade

Purdue Boilermakers

Game: Oct. 19 at Kinnick Stadium

Coach: Jeff Brohm (13-13, 3rd season at Purdue)

2018 record: 6-7, 5-4 in Big Ten West Division

Scoring offense: 30.5 points per game (5th in B1G, 52nd nationally — Iowa was 44th at 31.2)

Total offense: 443.9 yards per game (3rd B1G, 29th nationally — Washington State was 27th at 451.5)

Scoring defense: 30.0 points allowed per game (11th B1G, T-82nd nationally — Purdue was tied with Kansas at 82)

Total defense: 452.6 yards allowed per game (13th B1G, 113th nationally — national semifinalist Oklahoma was 114th with 453.8 yards allowed per game)

Series: Purdue leads 48-38-3.

Last meeting: 1) Give it up for former Purdue QB David Blough. 333 yards and four TDs, game of his life. 2) RPOs are going to have to be regulated. There’s way too much blocking downfield going on during a passing play. This is Purdue’s elite thing. And Blough, who was really, really good vs. the Hawkeyes. 3) You see the defensive numbers for Purdue in 2018. There was regression. So, vs. Iowa, Purdue did the smart thing and held like no one was watching.

No one really was watching. Yes, a lot on the officials, but Kirk Ferentz doesn’t mention officials ever after games. He did in this one.

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Super early, totally unofficial spread prediction: Iowa at home. Let’s go Hawkeyes -4.5. The Hawkeyes will be coming off Michigan and Penn State. Brohm has beaten Iowa in his first two meetings as Purdue’s head coach.

l Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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