Matthew Kenneth Rhule (born January 31, 1975) is an American football coach and former player who is the head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He previously served as head coach of Temple and Baylor, as well as the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). Rhule played linebacker at Penn State from 1994 to 1997.
|Annual salary||$9.25 million|
|Born||January 31, 1975|
New York, New York, U.S.
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1998||Penn State (volunteer asst.)|
|2002||Western Carolina (LB/ST)|
|2003–2005||Western Carolina (AHC/LB/ST)|
|2012||New York Giants (asst. OL)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
Rhule was born and raised in New York City before moving to State College, Pennsylvania, where he joined Penn State's football team as a walk-on under Joe Paterno. After a four-year playing career, Rhule began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at his alma mater. Over the following decade he served as an assistant at several schools, and in 2008 Rhule became the offensive coordinator at Temple. After a brief stint as an assistant for the NFL's New York Giants, Rhule returned to Temple as the program's head coach in 2013. During his four-year tenure, he led the Owls to their only two ten-win seasons since 1979. Rhule was hired as Baylor's head coach following Temple's victory in the 2016 American Athletic Conference Championship Game. After finishing 8–17 across Rhule's first two seasons, the Bears improved to 11–3 in 2019.
Rhule returned to the NFL in 2020 as head coach of the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers missed the playoffs in each of Rhule's first two seasons and he was fired after a 1–4 start to 2022, departing Carolina with a combined record of 11–27. The following month, Rhule agreed to an eight-year contract to become Nebraska's head coach.
Early years Edit
Rhule was born in New York City on January 31, 1975 to parents Dennis and Gloria. When he was a teenager, Rhule's family moved to State College, Pennsylvania, where he played linebacker at State College Area High School before walking on at Penn State under head coach Joe Paterno. He played for the Nittany Lions for four years and became a three-time Penn State Scholar-Athlete and a 1997 Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
Coaching career Edit
Early coaching career Edit
Following the end of his playing career, Rhule was hired as the linebackers coach at Albright College. After one year at Albright, Rhule served as a position coach at Buffalo, UCLA, and Western Carolina before being hired at Temple as a defensive line coach in 2006 under Al Golden. Rhule became the Owls' quarterbacks coach the following year, his first offensive coaching role, and was named offensive coordinator in 2008. When Golden left for Miami in 2010, Rhule interviewed for Temple's vacant head coaching job, which was instead given to Steve Addazio.
When Addazio departed for Boston College following the 2012 season, several veteran Owls players voiced their support for Rhule to return. Rhule, an area native who had referred to Temple as a "dream job," was formally hired as the school's twenty-sixth head coach on December 17, 2012.
Temple began Rhule's first season 0–6, which included a loss to Idaho that would be the Vandals' only win of the season. His first victory as a head coach, a 33–14 defeat of Army on October 19, was followed by four more losses, and the Owls finished 2–10. Temple improved to 6–6 the following year, ending the season with a 10–3 victory over Tulane to achieve bowl eligibility, though the Owls were not invited to a bowl game.
Temple opened Rhule's third season with a 27–10 win over his alma mater Penn State, the Owls' first win over the Nittany Lions since 1941. Led by eventual Chuck Bednarik Award winner Tyler Matakevich and third-year starting quarterback P. J. Walker (who would later serve as a backup for the Carolina Panthers under Rhule), Temple started a season 7–0 for the first time in school history. Though Temple lost four of its final seven games, including the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship game, the program's ten wins were its most since 1979. Rhule was reportedly a target of Missouri and Syracuse during the 2015 season; a four-year contract extension he had signed in July was re-negotiated to keep him at Temple.
The Owls returned to the conference championship game in 2016, where they defeated Navy 34–10 to win the program's second conference championship. Rhule accepted the head coaching job at Baylor prior to the 2016 Military Bowl; special teams coordinator Ed Foley served as interim head coach in Temple's upset loss to Wake Forest.
When Rhule was introduced as Baylor's twenty-sixth head coach on December 7, 2016, the program was in a state of significant transition. Longtime head coach Art Briles and his entire staff were fired or resigned as a result of the school's sexual assault scandal. Briles's immediate successor was veteran Jim Grobe, who took over in an interim capacity in 2016, leading Baylor to a 7–6 record and a seventh consecutive bowl appearance. Though generally well-received, Rhule's hire was considered something of a surprise, as athletic director Mack Rhoades had stressed the importance of Baylor's head coach having Texas connections; Rhule had never lived or coached in the state.
Baylor finished 1–11 in Rhule's first season, the program's worst record since 1969. The Bears improved to 6–6 the following year and were invited to the 2018 Texas Bowl, defeating Vanderbilt 45–38 in Rhule's first bowl win as a head coach. Shortly after the beginning of the 2019 season, Rhule signed a four-year contract extension which tied him to the school through 2027.
Baylor began the 2019 season 9–0, winning five games decided by eight points or less and reaching a No. 12 national ranking. After a loss to Oklahoma, the Bears won their final two games to finish the regular season 11–1, ranked seventh nationally. Rhule was named Big 12 Coach of the Year. After Baylor dropped each of its postseason games (a rematch with Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game and a meeting with Georgia in the Sugar Bowl), Rhule was named head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
Carolina Panthers Edit
On January 7, 2020, Rhule signed a seven-year, $62-million contract to become the fifth head coach of the Carolina Panthers, replacing longtime coach Ron Rivera. Panthers owner David Tepper, overseeing his first head coaching hire, referred to Rhule as a "program builder" who "can build an organization for the next thirty or forty years." After the 2020 NFL preseason was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Carolina lost Rhule's NFL head coaching debut to Las Vegas 34–30; he earned his first win against the Chargers in Week 3. A five-game midseason losing streak knocked the Panthers out of playoff contention, and they finished 5–11.
Prior to his second season in Carolina, Rhule, who had final say over the Panthers' roster decisions, traded incumbent starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and acquired Sam Darnold, the third overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. Despite a 3–0 start to the season, Darnold ultimately failed to improve on his underwhelming tenure with the New York Jets. Carolina finished twenty-ninth in the league in points scored and lost their final seven games to finish 5–12, missing the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year.
Midway through the 2022 season, Tepper fired Rhule after a blowout loss to San Francisco dropped Carolina to 1–4. Rhule, who was in the third year of a seven-year contract, received forty million dollars as part of his buyout.
Head coaching record Edit
|Temple Owls (American Athletic Conference) (2013–2016)|
|2015||Temple||10–4||7–1||1st (East)||L Boca Raton|
|Temple:||28–23||19–13||* Departed Temple for Baylor before bowl game|
|Baylor Bears (Big 12 Conference) (2017–2019)|
|Nebraska Cornhuskers (Big Ten Conference) (2023–present)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title or championship game berth|
|CAR||2020||5–11||.313||3rd (NFC South)||—|
|CAR||2021||5–12||.294||4th (NFC South)||—|
Personal life Edit
Rhule and his wife Julia have three children: Bryant, Vivienne, and Leona.
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- Shehan Jeyarajah (October 3, 2019). "'They are the standard': How Baylor coach Matt Rhule won over Texas high school football coaches". Retrieved April 4, 2023.
- "Texas Bowl score: Matt Rhule delivers as Baylor wins seventh game in shootout vs. Vanderbilt".
- Mark Schlabach (September 29, 2019). "Baylor, coach Matt Rhule agree to extension through 2027 season". Retrieved April 5, 2023.
- "2019 All-Big 12 Football Awards Announced". December 4, 2019. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
- Shook, Nick (January 7, 2020). "Panthers hire Baylor's Matt Rhule as head coach". NFL.com. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- Max Henson (January 7, 2020). "Why Matt Rhule? David Tepper explains". NFL.com. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
- Reed, Steve (September 13, 2020). "Panthers fall to Las Vegas Raiders, 34–30". www.wdbj7.com. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
- Newton, David (September 27, 2020). "Panthers turn up pressure, give Matt Rhule first NFL win". www.espn.com. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
- Joseph Person (October 14, 2022). "Matt Rhule's Panthers tenure: No quarterback, few wins, no mercy from fans". The Athletic. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
- "Panthers part ways with head coach Matt Rhule". www.panthers.com. Retrieved October 10, 2022.
- Coleman Bentley (October 10, 2022). "Matt Rhule is now getting paid $40 million NOT to coach the Carolina Panthers". Golf Digest. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
- Cooper, Sam (November 26, 2022). "Nebraska hires Matt Rhule as next head coach". Yahoo! Sports. Archived from the original on November 26, 2022. Retrieved November 26, 2022.
- "Matt Rhule Biography". Retrieved August 18, 2020.