Taver Johnson will be Temple’s new defensive coordinator, the program announced Wednesday.
Johnson arrives in Philadelphia from Purdue, where he served as defensive backs coach from 2014-16. Prior to that, Johnson spent two years on the defensive staff at Arkansas.
“Taver Johnson is an outstanding coach, a relentless recruiter and a positive role model for his players,” new Owls head coach Geoff Collins said in a statement. “He has experience coaching several positions throughout his career and has excelled at every university he’s been a part of. What I like most about him is his passion for the game and his love for the players he coaches. He really stood out in this process as a man who fit into the beliefs, philosophies and overall mentality that is Temple Football.”
Johnson — and Collins, who, as a former defensive coordinator, will surely keep a close eye on that side of the ball — take over one of the best defenses in college football. The Owls finished the ’16 season ranked sixth nationally in yards per play allowed, third in total defense and 11th in scoring defense in route to their first American Athletic Conference championship.
At Purdue, Johnson’s unit ranked 99th nationally in pass efficiency defense, permitting a 59.4 percent completion rate on 7.9 yards per attempt with 22 touchdowns allowed against 12 interceptions.
Purdue has its next coach, according to Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman and FootballScoop, and will hire Western Kentucky’s Jeff Brohm.
Brohm engineered an exciting, explosive spread offense with the Hilltoppers, leading Western Kentucky to back-to-back Conference USA titles in 2015 and 2016 and the program’s only two double digit-win seasons. Western Kentucky went 12-2 in 2015 and finished No. 24 in the AP poll, the program’s only top-25 ranking in its 10-year FBS history.
Under Brohm, Western Kentucky’s offense ranked 9th in S&P+ in 2014, 4th in 2015 and 9th in 2016. The high-flying Hilltoppers averaged 44.4, 44.3 and 41.9 points per game in Brohm’s three years.
Making Brohm’s accomplishments in Bowling Green, Ky. more impressive is that he maintained a high level of offensive success from 2015 to 2016 after losing star quarterback Brad Doughty, who threw for over 5,000 yards and 48 touchdowns in the Hilltoppers’ 12-2 2015 campaign. Mike White stepped in this year and threw for 4,027 yards with 34 touchdowns, signaling that Brohm’s system wasn’t successful just because of one good quarterback.
Obviously, Big Ten defenses will be a step up from those Brohm’s teams faced in C-USA. But Purdue does have the advantage of being in the fairly wide-open Big Ten West, in which a team can have a far easier time breaking through than in the brawling Big Ten East. While Wisconsin is a rock-solid program, in any given year getting past Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern and Illinois is feasible.
This won’t be an immediate turnaround in West Lafayette for Brohm, of course. But this is a program with plenty of offensive success in the last two decades (see: Brees, Drew) that looks like a very, very interesting fit for Brohm.
One of the bigger storylines of this offseason is the annual coaching carousel and where former LSU head coach Les Miles will land.
The longtime coach has stated he wants to coach again in 2017, and has plenty of credentials — over 100 wins, SEC and national championships — but where he will find a fit is one of the bigger mysteries.
A lot of folks have noted that he could be in the running for the Purdue job (Miles is a Big Ten man at heart) but it appears that will not be the case. According to Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel, a source told him to cross Miles’s name off of Purdue’s list.
There are not a ton of big openings at the moment so with the Boilermakers reportedly off the table, it might be a long offseason for the former LSU coach. Western Kentucky’s Jeff Brohm and Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck have been the two biggest names mentioned with the Purdue search but it appears unlikely any movement happens before this weekend.
Thamel also mentions Miles could be in the mix at Houston, which would be fascinating given his years at Oklahoma State and over a decade spent a few hours East in Baton Rouge. Either way, it looks like the carousel has a few more spins left in it this month.
Win or lose Saturday, Western Kentucky may have already lost its head coach. Reportedly.
Speculation had been mounting late Thursday night and on into Friday morning that Purdue had zeroed in on WKU’s Jeff Brohm as its next head coach. One Indianapolis radio personality even went so far as to call Brohm-to-Purdue all but a done deal.
That said, Rick Bozich of WDRB in Louisville subsequently reported that a source close to Brohm claimed that Dakich’s tweet “is 100-percent not true. It’s completely false.” The source did allow that, once the coach’s team finishes up the regular season, “[h]e’ll consider his future after that.”
Brohm, incidentally, is not represented by an agent, per Bozich.
Given Brohm’s connections to that area of the country — he played at Louisville and coached at his alma mater as well — he could also wait to see how the situation at Cincinnati plays out. Tommy Tuberville’s buyout with the Bearcats will be substantially reduced the middle of next week, and Brohm could very well be in play as a replacement.
In Brohm’s three seasons in Bowling Green, the Hilltoppers 29 games and one Conference USA championship. WKU could add a second consecutive title as they will face Louisiana Tech in the league championship game Saturday.
Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck has been the name most connected to the Purdue opening. The Boilermakers could talk to Fleck saturday, after WMU’s MAC championship game appearance against Ohio Friday night. Depending on how such a conversation, if it even happens, goes would determine what if anything would happen on the Brohm front.
Les Miles has also been mentioned as a possibility at Purdue as well.
Two Power Five openings were officially closed Saturday. In the very near future, yet another one could come open.
Heading into the latest Civil War matchup with Oregon State, Mark Helfrich, according to some, was fighting for his coaching life. After Oregon’s 34-24 loss in the rivalry game, it’s seemingly when not if Helfrich is offed by the Ducks.
From USA Today‘s Dan Wolken and George Schroeder:
Oregon has made preparations for a coaching search that will follow the eventual firing of Mark Helfrich, but the school has not officially pulled the trigger on the move as of late Saturday night, multiple people with knowledge of the process tell USA TODAY Sports.
Given the fragility of Oregon’s season ticket base and the potential for things to get even worse, Oregon officials are coming to terms with the necessity of making a change.
Helfrich just completed his fourth season as the Ducks’ head coach. After going 11-2 in his first season and 13-2 the second, the latter of which resulted in an appearance in the first College Football Playoff championship game, Helfrich has guided the Ducks to an eight-win season last year and four wins this year.
The four wins are the fewest for the program since 1991.
Should Helfrich be fired, Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, Purdue’s top target, would be a highly sought-after option for the program. If Brian Kelly and Notre Dame, as was intimated Saturday night, part ways, both the Irish and the Ducks could find themselves in a bidding war for the 35-year-old Illinois native.
A Helfrich dismissal would also bring another round of Chip Kelly rumors back into play. Yippie?