Trinity High School canceled Thursday classes after an anonymous Twitter user, now identified by police as Thor Wiljanen, posted, “If Jeff Brohm doesn’t come, we burn down Trinity.”
Subsequent tweets read, “If you see a man running down frankfort with a gas can and wild look in his eye, its me,” and “me, out front of Trinity, holding a single match and addressing Jeff Brohm directly* I’LL F------ DO IT.” Posts from that account have since been made private.
Officials in St. Matthews, Ky., charged Wiljanen with second-degree terroristic threatening, a felony, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. His attorney argued after the arrest that the posts were made in jest, and were not intended to be menacing.
“This was not a threat,” defense attorney Ted Shouse told WDRB, a local television news station. “This was an attempt at humor, an attempt at satire — a poor attempt — but it was meant unseriously and it is not a threat to the community or to the school.”
"In today’s world, the St. Matthews Police Department has no choice but to take threats like this seriously, especially when it involves a school in our own community,” Assistant Police Chief Maj. Tony Cobaugh said at a news conference.
Brohm’s decision to stay at Purdue came as a major disappointment for Louisville and many of its fans, who saw his possible return as a near-ideal scenario, following the school’s firing of Bobby Petrino earlier this month. Petrino was dismissed after the Cardinals started this season 2-8, ending his second stint at Louisville, where he went 77-35 overall.
“While going home was very appealing and meaningful to me, the timing was not ideal,” Brohm said Wednesday in a statement (via the Courier-Journal). “I believe that remaining at Purdue is the right thing to do, and I am excited for the challenges ahead.”
Brohm, 47, was born and raised in Louisville, had a standout career at Trinity and went on to play quarterback for the Cardinals from 1989 to 1993. After seven years in the NFL and a brief stint in the XFL, he became an assistant under Petrino at Louisville, spending eight seasons there before moving on to opportunities at other schools and eventually becoming head coach of Western Kentucky in 2013.
Brohm led the Hilltoppers to a 30-10 record and three bowl wins in as many seasons, then took over a struggling Purdue program in 2016. The Boilermakers, who were 9-39 over the previous four seasons, have gone 13-12 under Brohm, including a bowl win last season and 49-20 win over then-No. 2 Ohio State in October.
According to the Courier-Journal, Brohm was considered likely by Louisville staffers to take over their program, with some recruits to the school being given the impression that would happen. Yahoo Sports reported that, as of Tuesday evening, Purdue was “was “preparing to put a search for a new coach in motion.”
Brohm, though, said that following “intense and thorough discussion,” he decided it was “important to finish the building process we have begun and honor the commitment I made to our football program, players and recruits” at Purdue.
“As a former Cardinal player and coach, I want nothing but the best for the University of Louisville,” Brohm added, thanking the Cardinals Athletic Director Vince Tyra and other officials for “reaching out and expressing their interest in me.”
“While Jeff and I had a terrific conversation about the future of the University of Louisville football program and how he could play a role in our success, it was clear that his heart and mind were still with fulfilling his commitment to Purdue,” Tyra said in a statement. “As a Cardinal alumnus, Jeff has accomplished a great deal as a player and as a coach. We wish him the best going forward except when we may meet on the field of play.”
Trinity, his former high school, announced after the arrest that classes would be held as normal on Friday.