Joe Tiller 2.0

The last time
we saw Purdue on the field fans got a reminder of how far Jeff Brohm
still has to take this team after a 63-14 drubbing at the hands of a
down Auburn team. As fans we aren’t strangers to these kind of losses
but with spring practices underway there’s a different kind of
excitement surrounding the black and gold at Ross Ade Stadium.

Growing up a
Purdue fan during the Joe Tiller era was such a treat and all you
knew was winning and bowl berths. Even being born in 89 I remember
expecting a bowl game each year, the huge Rose Bowl berth and how
excited everyone was about those teams. And who doesn’t remember the
fumble and the echo that carries for the football program when it
seemed like the team was never the same.

Tiller is the
all time winningest coach at Purdue with 85 wins. I was working at an
apparel store during the 2008 season as the countdown was on to see
that record set. I watched the Oregon game on the computer while we
were waiting to see if we could put the shirts out only to suffer
heartbreak losing to the #16 Ducks in 2OTs. Then the next week when
he finally set the mark by beating Central Michigan when Kory Sheets
sealed it.

Drew Brees,
Dorien Bryant, Sheets, Jaycen Taylor, Keith Smith, Ryan Kerrigan all
some of my favorite players to wear the black and gold, and the
dominating end to Tiller’s tenure with the blowout 62-10 win against
IU. Five bowl games before Tiller and from 97-08 he only had two
losing seasons with 10 bowl games and five wins. What was going to
happen with Tiller gone.

I was
underwhelmed when Danny Hope was named the replacement and that’s how
his tenure went, but he did just enough to give you hope each season.
From the head scratching timeout late that gave Notre Dame a chance
to score the winning touchdown to the massive upset of Ohio State it
was up and down the entire time, but I still believed that last
season. Even the coach said they would win the Big Ten and then
Shoelace and Montee Ball got on track in back to back weeks in
combined 82-27 wins. I left that rainy Wisconsin game early. The
writing was on the wall and you knew the team wasn’t going to do
anything.

Then Darrell
Hazell got hired, fresh off a double digit winning season at Kent
State. He had ties to the Tressel Ohio State programs. Someone that
had success leading a team and said all the right things. One brick
higher brought legitimate rejuvenation to West Lafayette. Then the
team went 1-11 in his first season. Okay well he had to reshape the
program, but then things never got any better. No more than three
wins in a season and only nine in four years despite losing his job
before the fourth season finished, and let’s not forget how
frustrating Morgan Burke was as an AD. I liked Hazell, have his
autograph and even had a nice conversation with im down in Indy at
the mall, but he couldn’t lead this team anywhere.

Mike Bobinski
was brought in to replace Burke, an actual football guy. That’s a
great start but who will he get as a coach? P. J. Fleck to Western
Michigan to a New Year’s Six Bowl, will he come to West Lafayette.
Instead Purdue got Brohm who masted some extremely powerful offenses
at Western Kentucky and was on Bobby Petrino’s staffs. This looks
like a good hire and it has been.

Brohm has gone
13-13 in his first two seasons and 1-1 in bowl games but this is an
entirely different feeling then the last back-to-back bowl games that
happened at the end of the Hope tenure. There’s the obvious 3-0
against ranked teams in 2018, and there’s comparisons to the Hope
seasons with the inability to put the whole season together
especially after the blowout loss to Minnesota, but this is
different. How about going to bowl games with the terrible Hazell
recruiting classes and now securing a top 25 class and getting
players that Michigan, Penn State, Texas and Alabama wanted? How
about a true freshman getting Heisman consideration?

Jeff Brohm is
13-13 in two seasons while leading the Boilermakers but this isn’t a
team that’s just scrapping through to get to bowl eligibility, this
is a team on the rise and building something special. Hope couldn’t
keep his team playing steady, Hazell couldn’t recruit or win at all
and Purdue slipped back to what it was before Tiller. There was a low
ceiling for both those teams and fans could see it, but with Jeff
Brohm our imaginations can run wild. This is a Tilleresque hire and
resurgence for the Boilers and the reason why two off seasons have
seen Brohm tied to other jobs. West Lafayette has found its next Joe
Tiller.