Matt Rhule is heading back to the NFL. After engineering one of college football’s biggest turnarounds at Baylor, Rhule has reportedly taken the job with the Carolina Panthers.
Rhule, a New York native who previously served as a Giants assistant, was expected to interview with that franchise. Apparently the Panthers really impressed him, and he’s reportedly committed to lead that franchise going forward.
The only college head coach more constantly attached to NFL jobs over the last few years has been Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley. Rhule’s top-down managerial style and ability to build programs from the ground up, despite incredibly different situations like Temple and Baylor, has impressed many.
He has been a college guy for most of his career, but did serve as assistant offensive line coach with the Giants in 2012, so he has some pro experience as well, which helps matters.
Rhule is a big loss for the college coaching ranks. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit thinks he’s going to do very well in the pros.
Congratulations @Panthers on getting a GREAT coach and an outstanding leader. Gonna get interesting in Charlotte.
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) January 7, 2020
Matt Rhule began his head coaching career at Temple in 2013, taking the job after Steve Addazio left for Boston College. After a 2-10 season to start his tenure, he got to 6-6 in year two, and won 10 games back-to-back times before leaving for Baylor. He finished at 28-23 with the Owls, with a 19-13 AAC record, two AAC East titles, and one conference championship.
His Bears tenure was similar. Taking over an incredible difficult situation after Art Briles’ ouster ahead of the season prior, a hollowed out Baylor team went 1-11 in 2017. He took Baylor to the Texas Bowl and finished with a 7-6 record in year two, and made the Big 12 Championship and the Sugar Bowl in year three, finishing 11-3 (8-1) this fall.
All indications are that he is an incredible builder. The Panthers present a very interesting situation, as he’ll either have a former MVP quarterback in Cam Newton to build around, or the franchise can choose to move on from him and start anew, something Rhule is very comfortable doing.