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Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 27, Digital 6

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Page 11 of 117

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 27, ISSUE 6 12 T ruer words might never have been spoken around Purdue the past few months than when Jeff Brohm said the following about this season to come: "We're going to have to do different things and do the best job we can and somewhat try to out-coach (opponents) and do things a little differently," Brohm said shortly after spring ball concluded. "We're not just going to be able to line up and play base football and say, 'We're going to win the game.' We're going to have to be creative." That was a lot of words to convey a simple reality that Purdue's new football coach is accepting: He and his staff might have to be the Boilermakers' best hope this season. While that's not a ringing endorsement of the roster they've inherited, it's not a total hit job either. There are some players on this roster you can win with at this level. There's just not nearly enough of them. And there's no getting around that, other than to get around it, one way or another. I don't know what's left under the sun to do in college football anymore offensively. That creative bubble has to burst at some point. But Purdue will need something, something different, something innovative, some sort of great equalizer to make a roster assembled amidst, and shaped by, stifling futility, on the field and in recruiting, into something more than the sum of its parts. The good news for Purdue is that if anyone's qualified to make the best of this, Brohm doesn't just fit the profile, he might be the profile. He's won — big — before, immediately giving him a leg up on Purdue's past few hires in that sense. He has a track record — the 75-percent winning percentage, the Conference USA championships and the gaudy numbers at Western Kentucky do speak for themselves — and a rep- utation, a damn good one. But here, too, is what qualifies Brohm for this undertak- ing, beyond that résumé. He comes into this with his eyes wide open. He didn't walk in the door thinking he had all the an- swers; given the relative fanfare that surrounded his hire, he could have. From Day 1, he's shown a certain modesty and self-awareness that will suit him well as he takes over at a school where winning has been hard to come by but winning has been done before. He'll be pragmatic and solution-ori- ented. There's been very little soaring rhetoric, few visions of grandeur, no up-front promises, just a focus on what's important: Work, preparedness and the big picture. Know this about Brohm: The focus will not be an issue. His working, and waking, hours — and for college football coaches at this level, there's not a whole lot of difference anymore – will be spent worrying about winning and not things that have nothing to do with it. This will be a challenge. But remember: Every challenge Brohm takes on at Pur- due is a challenge he chose to. If he was the sort to be spooked by challenges, he could have gone someplace else. There are no guarantees in all of this. Brohm is the right guy for Purdue, without question, in so many ways, but very often in college football, the right guy meets the wrong situation and things go sideways. Time will tell, but to this point, he's done everything right, been everything Purdue's needed at this troubled moment in its history. Any success this season is success and would continue an offseason where the vibe around Purdue football has been genuinely positive for the first time in years. Purdue needs this to pay off. It's made an extraordinary investment in football by past standards and in athletics in general. It's a new day around Boilermaker sports and Jeff Brohm, in so many ways, is now the face of it, Purdue's best hope, now and into the future. j Neubert can be contacted at Purdue's Best Hope From Editor Brian Neubert

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