Jeff Brohm took a Gatorade bath on Saturday. The first-year Louisville head coach led the Cards to a 10-1 start and the program’s first ever ACC Championship Game appearance. Sunday evening he told his players to leave that memory in the distant past.
“We had to explain to our team yesterday in a lot of different ways that it needs to be erased for a full week. The full focus needs to be on this game because, in my opinion, this is the most important game of the rest of the season,” Brohm said Monday morning.
“We can talk about it all we want, this is the most important game. Our guys need to understand that preparing and trying to win this game needs to be the complete focus. If we want to make our fans happy, give them a good Thanksgiving, we need to go win that game.”
Running backs coach Chris Barclay, one of a handful of Louisville natives on the Cards’ coaching staff, took it one step further. “There’s no doubt about it. This is the Super Bowl,” he said. “We’re well aware of the ramifications of this game.”
This is not simply pregame bluster. Brohm has stressed the significance of retaking the Governor’s Cup since he took the job in December, and reiterated it multiple times over the summer. Mark Stoops shared a similar sentiment then and now.
“I would desperately like to keep that trophy here. It’s been here for a while and I hope it stays here,” said the Kentucky head coach. “But this is one heck of a football team and this is a new year. You also know how I feel about years past, records and all that crap. You know what I mean? Let’s worry about this game, this year. It’s a brand new game and it’s an important one to both teams.”
Brohm has Proven Track Record in Rivalry Games
This will be Jeff Brohm’s first Governor’s Cup as the Cards’ head coach, but he has experience in the rivalry. The instate series did not resume until after his playing days, but he was on the sideline for six years as an assistant coach. He was a part of four wins with Bobby Petrino and two losses on Steve Kragthorpe’s staff.
During his time at Western Kentucky and Purdue, he lost one 3-point game in each rivalry game. In 100 Mils of Hate (Middle Tennessee State) and the battle for the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana), he combined for six wins with a 17-point average margin of victory. However, Brohm lost his only game against an Indiana team with a winning record.
“I take it seriously. Rivalry games mean a whole lot to me. I’ve been a part of it, we’re going all the way back to high school days, and even in college. I understand that it’s more about our team playing the other team, said Brohm.
“It’s about the entire city, community and state and fanbases, wanting to go out there and compete and hope that their team wins. This can make a lot of people happy, or can make a lot of people sad. As a player, you don’t want to make your fans sad and make them mad, so we’ve got to try to get what they want. In order to do that we have to understand first, the challenge that’s ahead, which is a really good, talented football team. And we have not been able to beat them here in the recent past. In order to do that, we’re going to have to play better and play really good football.”
Brohm is 100% correct. Louisville has not defeated Kentucky at home since Bobby Petrino got in a pregame fight back in 2014, Mark Stoops’ second season. In the last four games Kentucky has outscored UofL 179-57, winning by an average of 30.5 points per game.