clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Purdue Football: Stepping Stone or Destination?

The Purdue football program is at a crossroads, it’s up to Mike Bobinski to choose the correct path.

Syndication: Journal-Courier Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Earlier today, I covered the short term ramifications of Jeff Brohm’s resignation here, now it’s time to pull back and take a broader look at the Purdue football program.

The key long term consideration for Mike Bobinski is how he views Purdue. Does he see Purdue as a “stepping stone” job or a destination job? Obviously he’s going to tell everyone that the Boilermakers are a destination, but who he hires will show you how he currently views the program and the roster of potential “destination” coaches.

Stepping Stone

It was clear from the start that Purdue wasn’t a “destination” job for Coach Brohm. He was at Purdue because Purdue needed a head coach, and made him a significant offer. There will always be a “can’t turn down” job for every coach, but Brohm had both feet in West Lafayette and his heart in Louisville for the entirety of his Purdue tenure. There’s nothing wrong with that, and Purdue is better off now than when they hired Brohm, but having your coach determined by another teams success (or failure) isn’t ideal.

Brohm made the pragmatic choice (in my opinion) of staying at Purdue when the Louisville job opened up in 2018. UL was a ground up rebuild after the Bobby Petrino debacle and Brohm was just getting out of that phase at Purdue. Scott Satterfield, though not wildly successful, built enough of a foundation for Brohm to hit the ground running, instead of having to dig out of a hole on day 1. The timing was right, and Louisville is a destination job for Jeff. The only way he leaves is if he retires or gets fired.

Being a stepping stone isn’t the worst thing, it means you’re winning. Other teams don’t poach unsuccessful coaches. Occasionally a stepping stone coach gets assimilated into the culture and becomes a long term solution. Look at Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss. I’m not sure many people thought he would be in Oxford this long, but he’s turned down multiple opportunities to stay and try to build something at Ole Miss. At the same time, if you’re looking for a “destination” coach, hoping against hope that the guy you hired wins big, falls in love with your school and decides to set up shop permanently isn’t your best bet.

When the hot young coaches with no Purdue ties come up as potential candidates, keep in mind that Purdue will be leasing that coach. Take TCU offensive coordinator and 2022 Broyles winner Garrett Riley for example. Landing him would be a huge splash for the Boilermakers, but with no ties to Purdue, or even the region, he’d be a hired gun. When a major coaching spot opens up in his home state of Texas (and there are several of those) odds are, we’ll be wishing him well, thanking him for his work at Purdue, and saying “can’t blame him for wanting to go home.”


If Mike Bobinski is looking for a “destination” coach, he’ll need to look at coaches with Purdue ties that view the job like Jeff Brohm views Louisville. That’s not a long list. One way to get around that is to find a coach with a resume like Joe Tiller. Purdue gave Coach Tiller the opportunity of a lifetime, and he stuck it out with the Boilermakers despite being hamstrung by miserly budget during the back half of his career.

Jed and I will go over some potential names later today once everything settles down, but there are a few “destination” coaches available, including a couple already living in West Lafayette. A “destination” coach won’t make the same splash as a hot “stepping stone” coach, but would provide Purdue with long term stability.

In terms of blogging, having a coach watch every 3 seasons is great for business, in terms of college football success, it can go either way.

One key consideration is timing when grabbing a destination coach. Does Bobinski feel like any Purdue guys, or “lower level” Tillereque coaches are ready for the Big10? If not, grabbing another stepping stone coach and hoping for better “destination” options are available in another 3-4 years isn’t a terrible idea. It’s going to come down to his opinion on a few “destination” guys that either lack head coaching experience, lack head coaching experience at a Power 5 level, or have experience but lack recent results.

It’s going to be a tough call , and it’s a call that Bobinski has to make within the next week.

In Conclusion

I’m not sure if Purdue is looking for their next Joe Tiller, or if they’re looking for the next Jeff Brohm. Both have their merits and both have their drawbacks. Personally, if any of the “destination” coaches fit what Bobinski is looking for in a head coach, I hope he moves in that direction. Practically though, he may not have a choice. I want a “destination” coach, but I want the right “destination” coach. If one isn’t available, I’d rather do this again after winning the Big10 in a few years, than settling for a coach that isn’t ready to make the jump to head coach in the Big 10.

I have no idea which direction Bobinski turns, but we’ll be ready to talk about it when he decides.

Up Next: Potential hires