Pratt: Brohm has tools to avoid post-Petrino effect

November 30, 2013, Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA_ | WKU coaches yell to the players for the next play. WKU won 34-31 against Arkansas State on Nov. 30, 2013 at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

Elliott Pratt

As history has shown, where ever Bobby Petrino goes, there’s a trail of misfortunes that lingers around the school which he leaves for at least a few years.

At Western Kentucky, Jeff Brohm is trying to disprove that theory.

Let’s take a look at what this Petrino effect is exactly.

When Petrino left Louisville, he was leaving a program that he had taken to new heights with a 41-9 record, an Orange Bowl victory, and a move from Conference USA to the former Big East.

When he bolted for the NFL, Louisville brought in Steve Kragthorpe from Tulsa to hopefully continue the success Petrino had brought.

Instead, what happened was a 15-21 record over the next three years that led to his firing following the 2009 season.

Now let’s head to Arkansas in 2008. Petrino makes the Razorbacks a Top-5 team with a visit to the Sugar Bowl in 2011 and a Cotton Bowl win in his last season.

Then there’s the scandal that led to his firing and the eventual hiring of the sideshow character of John L. Smith as his replacement.

After Smith’s 10-month contract was out, Arkansas hired Brett Bielema from Wisconsin. The Razorbacks didn’t win a game in the Southeastern Conference last year and are 2-14 in the league in two seasons.

As evidence reveals, life after Petrino is traditionally a train wreck.

“Without question, when you follow a guy like him, it’s a tough path to follow,” Brohm said at WKU’s Media Day. “I understand and trust me, we’ve tried to do everything – I’ve tried to do everything to make sure that doesn’t happen. (Petrino) is an outstanding coach. I feel like we’re in good position right now. I think we’re in good shape and the continuity that we have in things are very similar to what we’ve done last year. So it’s not like you’re breaking in new guys and changing it up on them.”

You have to give Brohm that to work with. This isn’t a new system that the 2014 Topper team is learning. Kragthorpe was brought to Louisville externally from Tulsa, and John L. Smith was losing his mind every time he stepped in front of a camera.

Brohm is in-house, knows the system, and is focused on maintaining what was established in the one year that Petrino led WKU.

Perhaps if the story were Petrino leaves and the university hires an outsider with a different philosophy, then WKU would suffer like the other schools after this upcoming season.

But as of now, all signs point to that idea being turned away. Brohm is in the position he’s in now because a Petrino exit was inevitable.  It came sooner than most expected, but nonetheless, Brohm passed his 12 month audition because of his proven leadership.

His players are confident in that. The discipline that Petrino brought to this team through a complex scheme of X’s and O’s resonates through the same philosophy Brohm is instilling in those who are now his players.

“First and foremost, Petrino is a great coach,” sophomore defensive end Kalvin Robinson said. “He’s one of the best coaches you can ever have. One thing he knew was the game of football. Having coach Brohm be under him for so long, I feel like they’re just the same person. They have the same coaching styles. They’re both great people.”

Continuity echoes from the players onto the coaches. Brohm only had to fill four position coaching spots on his staff for this year. Defensive coordinator Nick Holt had the opportunity to leave WKU for a bigger program, but he believed in what he, Brohm, and other coaches could do for the Toppers.

If the Petrino effect is real for WKU, we won’t know it until a few months down the road. But for now, all signs indicate Brohm has other plans in mind.