Louisville’s misery is over. After another embarrassing blowout loss, this time 54–23 to Syracuse on Friday night, the school fired Bobby Petrino to end the abrasive coach’s second stint with the school that last almost five full seasons. Yahoo Sports first reported the news.
This decision was a long time coming. The Cardinals are now 2–8 in a season lowlighted by several lopsided outcomes: the 51–14 loss to Alabama to open the season, the 66–31 loss to Georgia Tech (also in primetime on a Friday), the 77–16 loss to Clemson just last week and the final straw in upstate New York. After a 61-point loss to the No. 2 team in the country, two Cardinals players elected to transfer and three recruits decommitted. Louisville will miss out on a bowl game for the first time since 2009 and is spiraling toward its worst record since 1997. Finally, new athletic director Vince Tyra has seen enough to swallow Petrino’s reported $14 million buyout.
Now all eyes turn toward the nation’s most coveted candidate: Jeff Brohm, the Louisville native and former Cardinals star quarterback who is in his second year at Purdue after a sterling tenure at Western Kentucky. He led Purdue to the most shocking upset of the season when it beat Ohio State 49–20, and although a blowout loss to Minnesota tanked any fleeting hopes of a Big Ten West title, he has the Boilermakers playing high-scoring, chance-taking football that has put a recently dorman program on level pegging with conference powers. Is Brohm ready and willing to leave West Lafayette after two seasons? Even if he is, does he want this particular job in its current sorry state, or will he hold out for a more high-profile position?
Brohm has the leverage to be choosy. Why wouldn’t he want to go back to his alma mater and help build the program up to the top of the ACC? He could recruit the type of players—like breakout Purdue freshman Rondale Moore, who starred at Brohm’s alma mater Trinity High School in Louisville—and provide the stability the program needs to challenge Clemson for the Atlantic Division, compete for conference titles and make College Football Playoff runs.
Louisville wasn’t prepared to reload its depth chart following the early departure of Jackson, who won the 2016 Heisman Trophy. How bad things got on the field forced the school into its final decision, and Tyra better be confident that Brohm is ready to accept because money is tight. One Louisville Athletic Association board member recently told the Courier-Journal that the “university [was] not in a position to buy [Petrino] out” due to a lack of funds. The school recently had to pay for basketball coach Chris Mack’s buyout from Xavier and for a settlement with former athletic director Tom Jurich.
Something must have convinced Louisville brass to pull such an expensive plug and not believe that this was just a rebuilding year after losing a Heisman winner. Louisville either knows, or has to be wishing very hard, that that something is currently a three-hour drive away in West Lafayette.