Jeff Brohm, Brent Key have unique opportunity in Aflac Kickoff Game

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Louisville Cardinals, Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Louisville Cardinals, Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2023 Aflac Kickoff Game features two head coaches who are in a unique position for this game, and it presents an opportunity for them both.

The  Aflac Kickoff game has presented some of the best opening-week matchups in college football’s recent history. Whether it be top-ranked opponents opening the season with it all on the line, or conference grudge matches, this game has always found a way to set itself apart.

In 2023, we’ll see something that has never happened in the history of the game. Two head coaches, Jeff Brohm and Brent Key, making their official debuts with their respective programs.

Key did have the interim label in 2022, going 4-4 for Georgia Tech after Goeff Collins was fired, but this will be his first game as the official head coach. While Louisville will be starting the Jeff Brohm era, after parting ways with Scott Satterfield after the 2022 season.

Beyond both coaches making their official debuts in the Aflac Kickoff Game, they’re both also taking over for their respective alma maters.

The last time we saw a head coach make his debut in this game for his alma mater was in 2016 when Kirby Smart stepped on the field as Georgia’s head coach for the first time against UNC.  Seems to have worked out okay for the Bulldogs.

Can either Louisville or Georgia Tech expect similar results?

Smart walked into the Georgia program with a good foundation that had been built over 15 seasons by Mark Richt. While there were fixes to be made and holes to be filled on the roster, he wasn’t starting from scratch.

Key and Brohm aren’t quite as lucky, but could still use this nationally spotlighted game to bring attention to their programs and boost recruiting.

Brohm takes over a Louisville program that has not seen a 10-win season since 2013, Charlie Strong’s last year as head coach. Since then they’ve seen Bobby Petrino and Scott Satterfield do little to maintain success or build recruiting momentum. Louisville has yet to play in a conference championship game since joining the ACC in 2013.

Key’s job at Georgia Tech may be even more challenging. After 11 years of Paul Johnson’s triple-option scheme which depended very little on top recruits, and then three-plus seasons of losing under Geoff Collins, the Yellow Jacket football program is a mess.

Both coaches can use the Aflac Kickoff Game as a springboard to not only a successful 2023 campaign but also as a recruiting tool to show they have the ship sailing in the right direction.

Has either Georgia Tech or Louisville played in the Aflac Kickoff Game?

Both Louisville and Georgia Tech have previous appearances in the Aflac Kickoff Game, so while it’s a new stage for both coaches it’s not for the two programs.

Georgia Tech is 0-2 in the game, losing 42-41 in a double-overtime thriller to Tennessee in 2017 and then losing 41-10 to Clemson in 2022.

Louisville has gone 0-1 in the game, losing 31-24 to a tough Auburn team in 2015.

So it’s a guarantee that one of these two programs will notch their first victory in the Aflac Kickoff Game.

What are the career head coaching records for Brent Key and Jeff Brohm?

Brent Key’s 4-4 record as Georgia Tech’s interim coach in 2022 is his only experience as a head coach. To say he worked a few miracles to finish with that record may be an understatement.

Jeff Brohm has a 66-44 record as a head coach, going 30-10 in three seasons at Western Kentucky, and then 36-34 in six seasons as Purdue’s head coach. The Boilermakers were almost always competitive under Brohm and won the Big Ten West in 2022.

The Aflac Kickoff Game is set to start at 7:30 p.m. in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.