WKU Anticipates More Success

The “Toppers on Tour” hit town again earlier this week. The Western Kentucky Alumni Association hosted an event with WKU head coaches and athletic director Todd Stewart at Hunting Creek Country Club. WKU head football coach Jeff Brohm is getting ready to kick off his second season as the Toppers boss. WKU finished up the 2014 season with a pair of thrilling wins, including a 49-48 win over Central Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl in December. WKU won its final five games to finish 8-5. They kick off the 2015 campaign at Vanderbilt on Thursday, September 3, at 8 p.m. on the SEC Network.

What does the turnout and the response that you get in Louisville say about the support for Western Kentucky here?
It’s a great event for us. We have a huge fan base here in Louisville, we’re definitely proud to come here and get around them and thank them for all they do for us. We’re excited. Louisville is a big part of our fan base at Western. We want them to come down, watch our games, get around us, and enjoy the experience. We’re definitely thankful for all the support.

With all the exposure the program has received in the last few years, what is the payoff?
We feel good, we’re in a good position right now. We’re in Conference USA; it’ll be our second year, which gives us much more exposure, much more opportunity to be on the big stage, play good opponents. I think our fan base likes that. We really feel like Louisville, about 15 years ago, was in about the same position, as far as entering Conference USA. We think that if we can continue to improve, get better and schedule good non-conference opponents and make it exciting for our fans, they’ll come back and definitely we’ll expand that fan base.

tot-2012Just a few years ago, the program had the nation’s longest losing streak and to be here now, how has it happened so fast?
We’re excited where we are. We have some great players on our team that work hard; they love the game of football; they love playing for Western. They have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. They think that they have all been overlooked, and they’re excited about the schedule that we have. We try to make it fun. We try to make it exciting, and hopefully, this year we can do that again.

How crazy was that finish in the Bahamas Bowl from your vantage point?
We had a ton of fun. We got to be in the Bahamas for four or five days. Our coaches, players, fans had a tremendous time and felt good going into the fourth quarter with a big lead, 49-14, and then we made it exciting for everybody and had to stop them on a two-point conversion. I was not too thrilled for a while, but then you go and watch the Packers lose in the playoffs like that. Worse things have happened. It makes us hungry. We know we have numerous weaknesses that we’ve got to work on. We’ve done that this spring and this summer, and hopefully, we can show improvement this season.

This season, with some new talent and in year two of your tenure as the head coach, what are the expectations?
We feel like we have a hungry football team that wants to win. We had a good finish to the season, so we have some momentum. Our guys do have some confidence. I think we understand what it takes to win, and now, we’ve got to go out and prove it this year.

You open on National TV at Vanderbilt. How will that non-conference slate help build the brand?
Two SEC opponents – at Vandy and at LSU – and a Big Ten opponent – at Indiana – in the non-conference, and then our conference schedule, which is Marshall, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee and on down the line. Very good, competitive schedule for us. There is not any opponent that we can take lightly and have a chance to win, but we’ll have a chance in each and every game.

Is there any shot that UK could be back on the schedule any time soon?
We were fortunate enough to play them a couple of years ago, and things turned out our way. Obviously, we’d love to play Louisville and Kentucky every year if we could. We’ll definitely try and do that in the future.

As well as you know Bobby Petrino and his system, how does he manage to make it work with as many quarterbacks as he has now at Louisville?
He’s an outstanding proven coach. He’s a winner. He knows how to get it done. If you want your son to go somewhere and learn how to be a hard-nosed football player and learn to be tough and learn to be successful on the football field and in life afterwards, you go play for Coach Petrino. He knows how to win, obviously, his defense had a tremendous year with Coach Grantham running it, and his offense is going to get better and better every year. He has a lot of quarterbacks, and I’m sure they’ll all be ready to play. I see them having a tremendous year.

How fun is it to be part of an offense that puts up the kinds of numbers like your offense did last season?
When you’re an offensive guy, you like to make things exciting; you like to make it fun. Really, your players like to play in that type of offense in that manner. From our standpoint, we try to go at a fast tempo; we try to run the no huddle. We try to do that every day in practice where our players get a chance to experience that. We play a lot of guys, so everyone feels apart of it on the team, so that makes them work even harder. VT