WEST LAFAYETTE - Jeff Brohm couldn't turn down his alma mater a second time.
After six seasons at Purdue, the former Louisville standout quarterback is returning to take over the Cardinals.
Here is a list of names Purdue could consider to succeed Brohm:
Babers knows a lot about Purdue's program. He's coached for the Boilermakers and coached against them, including this season when Syracuse beat Purdue on Sept. 17. Babers has been the head coach at Syracuse since 2016 and took the Orange to two bowl games, including the upcoming Pinstripe Bowl. He also coached Bowling Green to consecutive bowl appearances prior to his time at Syracuse and took Eastern Illinois into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs twice. From 1991-93, Babers coached receivers at Purdue under Jim Colletto. His daughter, born in 1992, was nicknamed "Buckethead," an ode to the Old Oaken Bucket. Details of Babers' contract are not public record since Syracuse is a private university.
Purdue had success plucking a coach from Wyoming once before. Would it work again? Bohl was a part of two national championship teams at Nebraska in the 1990s, coaching on the defensive staff, then was a three-time national champion at FCS school North Dakota State. He now has Wyoming in a bowl game for the fifth time in seven years. The downside is Bohl is 64 years old and doesn't scream longevity, though Babers is 61.
The longtime Air Force coach was briefly mentioned when Purdue opened last time around. He's done tremendously well and has job security and is a n Air Force graduate. Purdue would be a new challenge and Calhoun's name will continue to surface with man Power 5 football openings. Air Force leads the nation in rushing, which would buck Purdue's traditional passing attack if a similar offensive style was brought to West Lafayette.
Candle is young, energetic and has had a lot of success in a short time at Toledo. The Rockets won this year's Mid-American Conference championship for the second time under Candle, who is 53-32 as a head coach, all at Toledo. The former Mount Union receiver worked his way up the ranks on Toledo's staff, getting promoted to head coach prior to the 2015 Boca Raton Bowl, which he won. He's taken the program to five more bowl games since.
Denbrock is already scouting Purdue, so he'll have some familiarity with the Boilermakers if his phone rings. The offensive coordinator at LSU has Midwest roots. He's from Michigan and has had coaching stops at his alma mater Grand Valley State, Michigan State, Illinois State, Cincinnati, Indiana State and Notre Dame, as well as Washington and Stanford. Denbrock is 58 and Brian Kelly has been a constant throughout his career. Denbrock also has never been a head coach, but as offensive coordinator at Cincinnati, he helped the Bearcats reach the College Football Playoff in 2021.
Staying in line with what is stated above about English, Hagen is a co-defensive coordinator who helped turn around Purdue's defense in his second stint with the Boilermakers. Hagen also has a reputation as a solid recruiter and in his two spells at Purdue has helped 18 defensive players get drafted into the NFL. Hagen is a Carmel native and former standout at Indiana University. In 2020, he was associate head coach at Texas before returning to Purdue.
This feels like a reach. Hartline has done incredible work as receivers coach at Ohio State, but it feels like a leap going from that position to head coach at Purdue. Boilermakers fans also are soured on the last former Ohio State receivers coach who went on to lead Purdue (Darrell Hazell). Hartline is a name from his success playing for the Buckeyes and in the NFL and could be a recruiting boost, but he's largely unproven in terms of leading a program. Hartline played receiver at Ohio State under Hazell's tutelage.
Georgia's offensive coordinator reportedly has been contacted by Purdue. Monken is from Illinois and last year helped the Bulldogs win the national championship, in Indianapolis, no less. He's just 13-25 as a head coach, but turned an awful Southern Miss program into a 9-5 team in just three seasons. After earning Conference USA Coach of the Year, Monken resigned to become offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After going from there to OC of the Cleveland Browns, Monken returned to the college game at Georgia.
This is an interesting name who spent four years in the midwest as an assistant coach at Notre Dame and Bowling Green 20-plus years ago. He's most well known for his time as a head coach at Mississippi State and Florida. He took Mississippi State to a No. 1 ranking and is 103-61 in 13 seasons as a head coach in the SEC. He's known as an offensive mastermind. He was fired at Florida after going 5-6 in 2021. He recently turned down rumors of becoming an offensive coordinator at South Carolina.
Purdue fans love offense, right? Look at what TCU has done in Riley's first season as offensive coordinator. The Horned Frogs are in the College Football Playoff, averaging better than 40 points and 500 yards of offense per game. At 33 years old, Riley will be a hot target for coaching openings so long as he's producing those kinds of numbers as a coordinator. He recently received the Broyles Award for the nation's top assistant coach.
Purdue players loved Shephard from his time with the Boilermakers and some of those from 2017-21 are still on the roster. He's a graduate of Northrop High School in Fort Wayne and played college football just down US-231 at DePauw. Under Jeff Brohm at Purdue, Shephard had the title of co-offensive coordinator. He left after last season to go to Washington, getting a promotion to associate head coach. Under his guidance, Huskies quarterback Michael Penix, a transfer from Indiana, led the nation in total yardage.
It feels like the time has passed on looping Spack in on this. He was passed over when Purdue hired Danny Hope to succeed Joe Tiller. Spack, a former Purdue linebacker and defensive coordinator during its glory days from 1997-2008, became head coach at Illinois State and has done an admirable job in 14 seasons there, winning a pair of Missouri Valley Football Conference titles with a trip to the FCS national championship game. This would be a more likely candidate under former athletic director Morgan Burke, who preferred to hire head coaches with Purdue ties.
Strong is currently on staff at Miami (Fla.), but also has coached Power 5 football. He helped bring national prominence to Louisville, going 23-3 in his final two seasons there in 2012 and '13. Strong parlayed that into the head coaching job at Texas, but was 16-21 in three seasons before being fired. Strong also was fired after three seasons at South Florida. If Purdue wants to give Strong another shot as a head coach, he could potentially resurrect his resume with some success in the Big Ten.
The former star at Brebeuf Jesuit in Indianapolis who went on to be a standout linebacker for the Boilermakers in the 1980s on defenses that also featured the likes of Rod Woodson, Cris Dishman and Fred Strickland has plenty of head coaching experience. He currently leads the USFL's Houston Gamblers, but prior to that made head coaching stops at Houston, Texas A&M and Arizona. Sumlin returned to his alma mater from 1998-2000, coaching receivers for a spread offense that featured quarterback Drew Brees and flipped the traditional run-heavy Big Ten upside down. Sumlin is 95-63 as a college coach and was the 2012 SEC Coach of the Year. He also continues to give back to Purdue, donating to the John Purdue Club's "More than a game" campaign to raise funds offsetting budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An interesting message came through my Twitter DMs from a reporter in Texas, who said they have it on good authority that a power 5 school has contacted UTSA's Jeff Traylor. There's only two power 5 jobs open currently: Purdue and Stanford. Like Purdue was in 2016 when Jeff Brohm was hired, UTSA was an afterthought. That changed with Traylor the last three seasons. He's 30-9 with three bowl appearances. Traylor says he's staying with the Roadrunners. If he left, he wouldn't be the first coach to lie about his status with a program.
Sam King covers sports for the Journal & Courier. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @samueltking.
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Journal & Courier: Possible Purdue football coaching candidates to succeed Jeff Brohm