Purdue coach Jeff Brohm started feeling abnormally fatigued late last week. By Saturday, the symptoms worsened.
Two positive COVID-19 tests Sunday confirmed what Brohm suspected.
On Monday, Brohm announced he had contracted the virus and would not be on the sideline for Saturday's season-opener at home against Iowa. Instead, offensive coordinator Brian Brohm will replace his older brother and will continue calling plays.
“It’s not going to be very fun and it’s bad timing," Jeff Brohm said on his weekly Zoom call. “You work all year long for a season, it’s an abbreviated season, I’d like to be there, be with the team. But I don’t think one person makes the team whether it’s a coach or a plyer. I think our team will respond and play well."
Brohm isn't the first coach facing this predicament.
Alabama coach Nick Saban and Florida coach Dan Mullen both tested positive last week and are among a handful of other college coaches who have been diagnosed with the illness.
The SEC canceled Florida's next two games after Mullen and at least 21 players and coaches had positive tests. Three negative tests allowed Saban to return to the sideline for Saturday night's win by the No. 2 Crimson Tide over No. 3 Georgia.
Big Ten protocols are more stringent.
Boilermakers athletic director Mike Bobinski said players with confirmed COVID cases must sit out 21 days while staff members are required to follow CDC guidelines — isolate for 10 days and remain symptom-free.
Those requirements rule out Brohm's in-person availability Saturday though Purdue is looking for alternative ways to keep Brohm in touch with his team.
“If there is any way we can let Jeff be involved remotely, if that is permissible, we would explore it," Bobinski said. “We don’t have an answer to that yet."
The initial indication something was wrong came late last week. So Brohm started feeling worse Saturday — chills and chest tightness among the symptoms — he presumed he had it. Sunday morning's daily rapid test came back positive and a subsequent test came back positive that night.
Bobinski said no Purdue football players have returned a positive result since daily tests began Sept. 30 and there has been no discussion with conference officials about postponing or cancelling this weekend's game.
“We’ve had good results, our players have a great success rate," Brohm said. “Unfortunately, it got me. There are some things that are going to flare up here and there. I think we’re doing about as good as anybody right now."
While Brohm isn't sure how he got the virus, he acknowledged some family members had it and he isolated immediately upon learning of their diagnosis. He declined to talk about contact tracing efforts involving assistant coaches.
Less than 90 minutes after Brohm spoke, Indiana coach Tom Allen offered his support.
“I lost a close friend to this virus, so I'm praying for him that he has a quick and full recovery," Allen said on his weekly Zoom call. “I hope he will be healthy and it won't affect his family. We’re around a bunch of people all the time and we try to stay healthy. We’re all just one positive test away from being in that position."
Brohm doesn't intend to be completely absent while he isolates.
Rather, he plans to watch practices, take notes and meet with coaches and players virtually throughout this week and potentially into next.
“Initially, I was disappointed that the bug bit me, and I felt like I let the team down a little bit," he said. “But we all know this virus is a mystery and it catches you. I thought I did a pretty good job of protecting myself but obviously not good enough. The thing that really energizes me is that our guys have taken this seriously and want to go out and play the game they love."
Note: Brohm also said he has selected a starting quarterback for Saturday's game but won't announce the winner publicly until game time. Jack Plummer and Aidan O'Connell both started games last season season and have been battling Austin Burton, a grad transfer from UCLA, this fall for the No. 1 job. ___
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