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Why has Drew Brees stepped in to the Purdue coaching staff ahead of the Citrus Bowl?

After retiring from a legendary NFL career, Drew Brees has tried his hand at broadcasting and Pickleball ownership. Now he checks out NCAA coaching.

After retiring from a legendary NFL career, Drew Brees has tried his hand at broadcasting and Pickleball ownership. Now he checks out NCAA coaching.
Sean GardnerAFP

Drew Brees is a legend, one of the best quarterbacks who ever lived, and a genuinely nice guy. And while it is not uncommon for NFL players to dip their toe into college coaching, not many step in to help their alma mater in a bowl game.

Before he lit up the NFL with New Orleans, before he tore up his shoulder at San Diego, Drew Brees was a standout at Purdue University. Now he returns to the fold as a countable assistant coach, as per NCAA guidelines. He will work with players on the practice field and play a role in next year’s recruiting.

Purdue director of athletics Mike Bobinski issued a statement saying, “Purdue University is fortunate to have alumni who are impactful leaders in industries and careers across a wide spectrum, including professional football. For more than two decades, Drew Brees has shown the world what makes the Boilermakers special.”

He was an elite football player, but most of all, Drew is an extraordinary leader. Gaining his insights on the football field and in our coaching offices during this time of transition will be of great value to our student-athletes and staff. We’re grateful to Drew for his willingness to share his time and expertise in yet another show of support for the Boilermakers.”

Brees won Super Bowl XLIV at the helm of the New Orleans Saints, reaching 13 Pro Bowls becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to top 80,000 career passing yards before retiring at the end of the 2020 season.

Far from some struggling program that is in the middle of a rebuild, the Boilermakers went 8-4 this season, reaching the Big Ten title game for the first time in program history, where they lost to Michigan 43-22. They will now face LSU in the Citrus Bowl on January 2nd, Purdue’s fourth bowl appearance in six years.

The problem was that all of that success led to head coach Jeff Brohm being poached by Louisville, and at the end of the regular season, Purdue found themselves in something of a transitional period. Illinois’ defensive coordinator Ryan Walters was announced on Tuesday as the 37th head football coach in Purdue’s history and he has an uphill battle on his hands.

Purdue will find themselves shorthanded, with their top three offensive players opting out of the game. Quarterback Aidan O’Connell, tight end Payne Durham, wide receiver Charlie Jones, and cornerback Cory Trice are sitting the Citrus Bowl out and are going to make a big hole in that Big Ten powerhouse lineup.

Purdue released a statement from Brees, which says, “I am extremely excited to work with our team over the next few weeks as we prepare for the Citrus Bowl. I see it not only as an opportunity to coach and mentor this group of young men, but represent all the former Purdue players that care so much about our program.”

“This is also preparation for the future of Purdue Football with new head coach Ryan Walters. I had a great conversation with Coach Walters last night, and love the energy, passion and detail he will bring to our program. The future is bright, and there is no better time to be a Boilermaker!

Around campus at Purdue, Drew Brees can do no wrong. This will certainly add to the great man’s mystique.