Louisville has hired Jeff Brohm as its next coach, the university announced Thursday. Brohm, a native of Louisville who also quarterbacked the Cardinals in the 1990s, leaves Purdue after six successful seasons to return to his alma mater. The Louisville board of trustees formally approved Brohm's contract in a meeting on Thursday.
Brohm led the Boilermakers to a 36-34 record across those six campaigns with a 17-9 mark over the last two seasons and an appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game following the 2022 campaign. Prior to joining Purdue, he coached Western Kentucky to a 30-10 mark in three years with a sterling 22-5 record across the final two.
"We're excited to welcome Head Coach Jeff Brohm and his family home to the University of Louisville," said athletic director Josh Heird. "The Brohms are synonymous with Louisville, and Jeff has made a lasting impact on our city as a high school star, college quarterback, professional athlete and coach. But beyond his ties to the city, what excites me most about Jeff is that he's had success at the highest level of college football. To put it simply, Jeff is a proven winner. Along the way, he's done it with an exciting brand of football that remains innovative and entertaining, and he's done it by making the right decisions with the best interest of his student-athletes at the forefront. I knew we needed to identify a tremendous leader for our program who understood the history of Louisville Football, and who would be committed long-term to this school and this community. There's not another coach in America who checks those boxes like Jeff Brohm."
In addition to quarterbacking the Cardinals, Brohm was an assistant at Louisville for six seasons under Bobby Petrino and Steve Kragthorpe. He served as quarterbacks coach (2003-06) and assistant head coach (2007-08) with stints as passing game coordinator (2007) and offensive coordinator (2008) as well.
A return to Louisville has always seemed like an eventuality for Brohm, though he turned down an offer to coach the Cardinals in November 2018 in favor of staying at Purdue after the program fired Petrino (in his second stint with the team). Louisville eventually hired Scott Satterfield, who left earlier this week after four seasons to coach Cincinnati.
"My family and I are honored to return home to the University of Louisville, a place we love, which has been so influential in shaping me as a player, a coach and a man," Brohm said. "I am extremely grateful and humbled that Dr. Gonzalez, Dr. Schatzel, Josh Heird and the ULAA Board believe that I am the right person to lead this football program. I promise relentless energy, effort, and hard work every single day on behalf of all our coaches, staff and student-athletes. Our goal is to compete for championships while also developing our student-athletes into true leaders on and off the field. These young men will make our university, our community, and our fan base proud to be Louisville Cardinals. This city means a great deal to me and my family. Louisville is who we are. Thank you all for welcoming us back home."
Brohm is expected to earn a contract averaging around $6 million over six seasons, according to ESPN. His departure leaves the Boilermakers in search of a new coach as the program comes off its first-ever Big Ten West title. With Brohm's departure, the division will have three new coaches for the 2023 season as Matt Rhule take over at Nebraska and Luke Fickell takes over Wisconsin.
A career overacheiver
After a professional playing career, Brohm had a six-year run as an assistant for the Cardinals before moving on to coaching staffs at FAU, Illinois and UAB. Then, in 2013, he landed at Western Kentucky as Petrino's offensive coordinator. When Petrino returned to Louisville after just one season with the Hilltoppers, Brohm got the head coaching job and took WKU to new heights. The program's 12-win season in 2015 and 11-win season in 2016 under Brohm still stand as WKU's only seasons with double-digit wins in 14 years as an FBS program.
His rapid success earned him the Purdue job at a time when the Boilermakers were in a pit of despair, limping to a 9-39 mark over the previous four seasons. Brohm took them to a bowl victory in his first season, which quickly earned him attention from even more high-profile jobs. At one point, he was linked strongly to Tennessee during the Volunteers' winding 2017 search for Butch Jones' replacement. But Brohm stayed put and guided the program to another bowl appearance in 2018.
Though the Boilermakers finished just 6-12 over the 2019 and 2020 seasons, back-to-back 6-3 marks in Big Ten play over the past two seasons marked the best two-year run of conference play for the Boilermakers since 1997 and 1998 when the program finished 6-2 in the Big Ten in consecutive seasons under Joe Tiller.
Brohm's style fits with Cardinals
The hire continues Louisville's legacy of offensive-oriented coaches that has made the program a steady producer of statistically impressive quarterbacks. Aside from Charlie Strong's successful four-year run from 2010-2013 as a coach with a defensive background, Louisville has employed offensive minds for most of the 21st century in Petrino, Kragthorpe, and Satterfield.
But even under Strong, offense became Louisville's calling card as Teddy Bridgewater starred for the Cardinals in 2013 during a 12-1 season with nearly 4,000 yards passing with 31 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Then came Lamar Jackson during Petrino's second stint. The current Baltimore Ravens star quarterback won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 before Malik Cunningham entered the picture in 2018. Cunningham has been a mainstay at the position for the past five seasons but is out of eligibility.
That means Brohm will likely be in search of a quarterback for the 2023 season, and it stands to reason that plenty of players at the position will be attracted to his system. Over the past two seasons, former walk-on Aidan O'Connell has thrown for more than 7,000 yards for the Boilermakers, which have been among the most pass-happy teams in the country. Purdue ranked second in passing offense in the Big Ten this season behind only Ohio State, and the Boilermakers' 541 pass attempts rank fourth in the country this season.