I’m going to go ahead and apologize in advance for bringing up old news to all of you who read this. Most Vol fans just want to move on from what happened back in November of 2017, but there are still some unanswered questions from the Vols’ debacle of a head coaching search under former Athletics Director John Currie. And one person who was reportedly involved back then has finally spoken out about what happened.
If you’ll remember back to November 29th for a minute, you’ll recall the reports that Tennessee was “closing in” on a deal with Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm to become the Vols’ next head coach. Long-time Knoxville reporter Jimmy Hyams first reported the news, and it appeared that Tennessee might’ve found their coach even after the disaster that was the Greg Schiano situation the previous Sunday.
But, as Vol fans well know, Brohm wasn’t to become Tennessee’s next head coach. In fact, aside from Hyams’ report, there were never any other credible sources reporting contact between UT and Brohm.
Now several months removed from that situation and with a new contract extension in hand, Brohm has spoken about what happened back in November.
Brohm spoke with Gentry Estes of the Louisville Courier Journal about his connection with the Tennessee coaching search back in November. And while he didn’t outright say he was close to becoming the Vols’ head coach or just how involved he was, he certainly didn’t deny any involvement either.
“I don’t want to get into details on it. Like I said, where there’s smoke there’s fire,” Brohm stated. “But I think that I was completely straightforward with the people I needed to be. Like I said, when it’s all said and done, this is, in my opinion, the best spot for me.”
Purdue brought in Brohm to be the Boilermakers’ head coach prior to last season, and he led Purdue to a 7-6 season after serving as Western Kentucky’s head coach for the three previous years. Purdue’s seven wins were the most in a single season since they went 7-6 back in 2011, and it was the school’s first appearance in a bowl game since 2012.
Brohm’s performance in his inaugural season with Purdue, along with the speculation about the Tennessee job, got him a two-year contract extension this offseason. He now has a seven-year deal with $29 million guaranteed as Purdue’s head coach.
But despite the lack of reports at the time, it does appear that Tennessee did, in fact, contact Brohm. But he claims he was straightforward with people about those conversations.
“There’s always going to be people going behind closed doors, expressing interest in this job and that job,” Brohm stated. “Those things, yeah, those things did come about. But I think I was always honest with everybody and kept it real.
“In the end, I think this is the place I enjoy being because I think it does have a great challenge to it, and I am committed to doing my part to try to help us get over the hump and become a winning program.”
Another unintended consequence for Brohm and his school happened in recruiting. Apparently the exposure he got for being connected to the Tennessee job helped the Boilermakers in recruiting during the 2018 class.
“Believe it or not, after that day, our recruiting went this way,” Brohm said while motioning upward to the sky. “There were people now talking to us that didn’t talk to us before. I hate to say it, but in my opinion, it made — in recruits’ eyes — our coaching staff and our program and what we’re doing something more desirable than it was before. It actually boosted our recruiting after that in a positive way.”
According to 247Sports’ rankings, Purdue’s 2018 recruiting class finished No. 50 in the nation in terms of ratings. That was the highest-rated recruiting class Purdue had brought in since their 2012 class finished 49th in the country.
Tennessee has their man now in Jeremy Pruitt, and Brohm seems content to be at Purdue still. But the more information that comes out about Tennessee’s head coaching search, the more obvious it becomes just how botched it actually was under John Currie.