Friedlander: Scott Satterfield got out while he could. Now is Jeff Brohm ready to come home?
When the news broke early Monday morning, it came so far out of the blue that it even upstaged the flurry of transfer portal announcements that dominated social media all day.
Scott Satterfield isn’t just leaving Louisville. He’s leaving to become the new coach of Louisville’s upcoming bowl opponent and one-time rival, Cincinnati.
It’s a lateral move in one sense, even though the Bearcats are about to gain Power 5 status with their entrance into the Big 12. At the same time, Satterfield’s departure and the ripple effect it could create involve so many different levels, you’d need an escalator to traverse them all.
Let’s start with the toxicity of a Louisville athletic department with a recent resume that includes – but is not limited to – 3 separate men’s basketball scandals, including 1 involving an assistant coach attempting to extort the school to prevent his firing; an FBI investigation; a financial mess; and the departures of AD Vince Tyra and school president Neeli Bendapudi within days of each other last December.
Although things have begun to improve under the leadership of current AD Josh Heird, the environment is still hardly conducive to success.
Then there’s Satterfield’s standing among the Cardinals’ fan base.
Whatever popularity he gained by cleaning up the mess left by Bobby Petrino upon his arrival in 2019 quickly vanished 2 seasons later with his less-than-discreet pursuit of the South Carolina job.
He was squarely on the hot seat when the current season began and only survived it by rallying his team from a 2-3 start to wins in 5 of its final 7 games. But despite the winning record and Fenway Bowl bid, he received what amounted to a vote of no confidence when Heird decided not to extend his contract at the end of the season.
With a 25-24 overall record (15-18 ACC), 3 straight losses to rival Kentucky, a new athletic director and just 2 years left on his deal with the school, Satterfield’s job security at Louisville was anything but secure.
Leaving on his own terms now was his way of getting the heck out of Dodge before the posse caught up with him.
Going anywhere that would offer him a job gives Satterfield the opportunity to get his new contract and start over fresh with a new administration and team. Going to Cincinnati gives him the opportunity to do both while also inheriting a winning program with a track record of sending coaches on to bigger and better and better things.
Mark Dantonio used the Bearcats as a stepping stone to Michigan State. Butch Jones went on to
Tennessee, Brian Kelly to Notre Dame, Tommy Tuberville to the U.S. Senate and now Luke Fickell to Wisconsin.
Just last year, Fickell had the Bearcats in the College Football Playoff. Without the benefit of the Power 5 conference they’re about to join. This year’s team is 9-3 heading into its Dec. 17 meeting with Satterfield’s old team in Boston.
It will be interesting to see how much if any advance intel Satterfield will provide to help interim coach Kelly Coombs prepare for the Cardinals or if he decides to show respect for his now-former players and stay out of the fray.
That intrigue is only minor compared to the speculation surrounding Satterfield’s replacement at Louisville.
One name and only 1 name is being mentioned.
Purdue’s Jeff Brohm.
The Louisville native and former Cardinals quarterback is viewed by football fans at his alma mater in much the same way Roy Williams was by North Carolina in basketball.
He’s the prodigal son waiting to be called home to save the program from ruin and return it to glory.
As was the case with Williams, Brohm balked at his first opportunity to return. He turned down the job in 2018 before it eventually went to Satterfield from Appalachian State.
Brohm, who just led Purdue to the Big Ten Championship Game, was predictably noncommittal when asked about his interest this time. One thing he conspicuously avoided saying Monday during the press conference for his Boilermakers’ Citrus Bowl game against LSU is that he’s not interested in the Louisville job. Or that he’s committed to staying at Purdue.
Jeff Brohm on Louisville so far this morning: pic.twitter.com/Da6kHIY921
— CODYJHORN (@codyjhor) December 5, 2022
By doing so, he left open the possibility that he’s a Cardinal open to flying back to the nest if the price is right. And if the smoldering dumpster fire that once engulfed the Louisville athletic program has been sufficiently extinguished.
Brohm is in his 6th season in West Lafayette, where like Satterfield, his record is barely above the .500 mark at 36-34. His 2 most recent teams, however, have won 8 and 9 games respectively with the 2022 edition earning the Big Ten West title.
So he’s in a position of strength rather than desperation.
But when it comes to the coaching profession, there’s something to be said for seeking out a fresh start with a new contract, new administration and new team every so often. Because you just never know how close behind you the posse might be and it’s always a good idea to get out of Dodge before they catch up.