LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Jeff Brohm embraces the high expectations of coaching Louisville because he helped established its success as a quarterback and assistant.
Now that he’s finally taking over his alma mater, his bar for the Cardinals might be raised even higher.
Nearly five years after turning down overtures to focus on building Purdue into an eventual Big Ten runner-up, Brohm is back in the Derby City. He replaces Scott Satterfield, now at Cincinnati, and his eight months of transition have been promising. But given his rich history with the program, an impressive resume with Western Kentucky and the Boilermakers, and inheriting an eight-win, bowl-winning squad that received votes in the preseason AP Top 25, the honeymoon period might be shorter for him than another coach.
It comes with the territory, especially one he’s very familiar with.
“Without question, coming here is another challenge,” said Brohm, who still ranks in the top 10 in many passing categories at Louisville. “In today’s age of college athletics it’s about winning now. It’s about doing it with our current football team and any new pieces we’ve added, we want to do that in year one and it’s important that you do that.”
The Cardinals (8-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference in 2022) return six starters each on offense and defense among 15 overall. Brohm has added 26 transfers, 14 coming after spring practice.
Louisville’s most notable newcomer might be quarterback Jack Plummer, a graduate student who passed for 6,500 yards and 47 touchdowns over four seasons at Purdue and Cal. His totals include career highs of 3,095 yards and 21 TDs on 63% accuracy last fall with the Golden Bears after three years with the Boilermakers.
“No doubt, being able to play in this offense going on my fifth year now has been huge,” Plummer said.
Plummer follows standout mobile QB Malik Cunningham at Louisville and looks forward to the next chapter with his former coach. The reunion seems fitting for a program that welcomed a native son back home.
Linemen Ashton Gillotte (six sacks) and Dezmond Tell (two) return from a fierce pass rush that led FBS with 50 sacks last season. Cornerback Jarvis Brownlee was the No. 3 tackler with 66 stops, with linebacker Ben Perry and safety Josh Minkins in the top 10. M.J. Griffin (45 tackles, two interceptions) is likely out for the season after injuring his leg last week in camp, leaving a spot to fill at safety.
Jawhar Jordan looks to build on team highs of 815 yards rushing and 1,253 all purpose. Amari Huggins-Bruce (365 yards, two TDs) is the top returning receiver in a deep corps that added Jamari Thrash (1,752 career yards at Georgia State) and Kevin Coleman (475 yards, three TDs at Jackson State) among others through the portal.
Brohm’s younger brother Brian — whose Louisville passing numbers surpassed his sibling — also returns home as offensive coordinator and QBs coach. In fact, several Purdue assistants with Louisville connections followed the boss south including receivers coach Garrick McGee, who was the Cardinals’ OC during Bobby Petrino’s second coaching stint. Also in the fold are defensive coordinator Ron English, who held the same job at UofL in 2008; co-DC Mark Hagen; running backs coach and Louisville native Chris Barclay; special teams coordinator Karl Maslowski; and tight ends coach Ryan Wallace.
Cardinal Stadium will be called L&N Stadium under a 20-year naming rights agreement announced in January. The financial institution was founded in 1954 at the site of the 25-year-old, 60,800-seat stadium to serve L&N Railroad workers in Louisville. It had lacked a title sponsor since 2018 after the school dropped the name and logo of Louisville-based pizza chain Papa John’s amid fallout from a report that founder John Schnatter used a racial slur during a company conference call.
Louisville will be busy the first 15 days of the season with three games starting Sept. 1 with its ACC opener against Georgia Tech at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. FCS Murray State visits six days later before the Cardinals face Indiana in Indianapolis on Sept. 16. There’s a home game against No. 13 Notre Dame on Oct. 7 before a five-game ACC gauntlet ending Nov. 18 at Miami (Florida). The inaugural Schnellenberger Trophy is at stake in that contest before Louisville seeks its first Governor’s Cup since 2017 when it hosts archrival Kentucky in the Nov. 25 finale.
AP freelance writer Ed Peak contributed to this report.