Ed Peak: Louisville football is on life support, needing a transplant

As the losses mount, so too does the embarrassment for University of Louisville football. How much more can L1C4 take? It’s like trying to plug an oil gusher with a band aid. No hope.

Did Bobby Petrino forget how to coach? No. Did he miss the lectures on effective human resources management? Yes. Much debate about whether Athletic Director Vince Tyra should relieve Petrino of his duties. Pay the $14 million buyout and run up I-65 to secure home boy Jeff Brohm from Purdue.

Brohm, you’ll recall, was an assistant at Louisville under Petrino. When Petrino left Western Kentucky University, Jeff took over as head coach and led the Hilltoppers to a Conference USA title and two bowl wins before going to West Lafayette.

In in his first season at Purdue he led the Boilermakers to a Foster Farms Bowl win over Arizona. Louisville escaped a loss in Indianapolis in the season opener to that same Purdue team, 35-28. This season after struggling to an 0-3 start, Purdue won four of its next five which included wins over nationally ranked Ohio State and Iowa, as well as Boston College. Yes, The Ohio State University of Coach Urban Meyer. It wasn’t close, 49-20.

Louisville would have to pay Brohm’s buyout at Purdue. He seems happy where he is. He admitted to meeting with Tennessee during their coaching mess last year, but said no. If you would turn down a chance to coach in the almighty Southeastern Conference, a blue blood program like Tennessee, would he come back to Louisville?

I’m told he still has a home in the Ville. He would be a fan favorite and could possibly make a quick fix of the mess on Floyd Street like what was at Purdue. Coaches love coming home but I’m just not sure Brohm is a jumper like so many coaches.

Brohm is a regular guy with humble beginnings. I knew him as a player at Trinity and Louisville and assistant coach for the Cardinals. He and his coaching staff have the respect of many of the state’s high school coaches just like Greg Nord did when he was an assistant at Kentucky and Louisville. Brohm got a steal when he plucked Rondale Moore of Trinity away from Kentucky and Louisville. The receiver is trending to set Purdue and Big Ten freshman receiving records.

Let’s look at Petrino. The landscape has changed since Bobby’s first coaching stint in The VIlle. In four seasons he was 41-9 and lost one home game. He outrecruited Kentucky while he was at Louisville. He went out in the state and got the Lefew brothers from Boyle County. When running back Eric Shelton, who transferred from Florida State he convinced the Lexington Bryan Station player to come to Louisville. Petrino arguably got the two players out of Louisville in back to back seasons in Brian Brohm, Jeff’s brother and Michael Bush who help Male High to three state championship games.

Now Kentucky and Mark Stoops are getting the state’s cream of the crop. This season has been especially profitable including probable Mr. football in Rondale Robinson of Western Hills, Shawkel Knight-Goff, Doss and Demontae Crumes of Butler. Eli Cox, a lineman from West Jessamine committed in May, the first in state player to do so do in two years according to the Lexington Herald Leader.

Back to Petrino’s first go round. He left to to coach the Atlanta Falcons in January, 2007. It didn’t last a full season. He resigned leaving without telling his players anything, just leaving a note. Next he coached Arkansas in 2008. His team won the Cotton Bowl in 2009 quarterbacked by Ryan Mallett and had things rolling. But he got into trouble with some off the field stuff, lied to his athletic Director, and was relieved of his duties.

He spent one season at WKU before then Athletic Director Tom Jurich welcomed Petrino back into the fold. “He’s a changed man,” said Jurich at the press conference. Jurich spent seven hours with Petrino the day he interviewed him. He also interviewed Petrino’s wife, Becky, and she assured him he was a changed man.

Most Louisville fans were afraid if Petrino had success he would jump to whatever was the best job. “This is the last stop for me,” said Petrino.
Not this time. When Louisville was in Conference USA they had maybe three teams that would challenge the Cardinals on a regular basis. Southern Mississippi and East Carolina, South Florida. In the Big East it was West Virginia, Cincinnati, South Florida and sometimes Rutgers were threats.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is a better conference top to bottom. The Cardinals didn’t catch any breaks when they were placed in the same Atlantic Division with Clemson who have played in the College Football Playoff in each of the last three seasons including winning a national championship.

Florida State a long time power won a national championship make the playoffs twice. The Seminoles were a long time power under Jimbo Fisher and before that Bobby Bowden. The average teams in the ACC are better than the average teams in the the other two conferences. North Carolina State, Boston College, Virginia, Syracuse . In the Coastal Division Miami, Florida and Virginia Tech have had their moments.

The landscape has changed considerably since Petrino 1.0. Could Louisville rebuild and ever become a football power? The Cardinals seemed to be on their way with Petrino before the bottom fell out. I’ll not forget how fans complained about Charlie Strong’s defensive minded teams that were conservative offensively but strong on defense. Petrino’s teams wanted to outscore you and did most if the time.

Okay, Cardinal fans. Good defense and conservative offense and winning. Or offense that tries to outscore everybody. It’s your call what kind of coach you want. Tyra will soon have to do that.

I haven’t checked the Clemson score lately. Have they scored again? 


Author: Ed Peak

Ed Peak has covered UofL sports since 1973, as a student reporter, as a correspondent for the Courier-Journal, a freelancer for the Associated Press and United Press International, as well as ScoreCard, Fox Sports and CBS radio.

2 thoughts on “Ed Peak: Louisville football is on life support, needing a transplant”

  1. I think Petrino has long benefited from an exceptional Coaching Staff and that has now failed him. This team is clearly not ready for some very basic and fundamental moments. How can you not stop the run against a running team who is only going to run? Even the worst teams in football can do that and we didn’t even load the box against anyone.

  2. As much as I love the Brohms I don’t know if he even could clean up this mess & I would absolutely hate seeing Jeff & his family receive the ire that Bobby & his family is receiving right now from the Louisville fanbase. Alienating the first family of Louisville football would be a bad look & make it an even tougher hire in the future and with the current financial woes Vince needs to be certain this is the right move, maybe not put all of his eggs in one basket. Go Cards!

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