In a sea of new text messages received by Marcus Satterfield following South Carolina’s win over No. 7 Clemson, Matt Rhule’s stood out.
“Call me,” it read, according to Satterfield.
The then-Gamecock offensive coordinator had just wrapped up a fantastic end to the team’s regular season. Just a week after South Carolina racked up 63 points and 606 yards to beat No. 5 Tennessee, Satterfield led the offense to 31 points and 415 yards to claim another victory over a top-10 opponent. But his excitement upon seeing Rhule’s text had less to do with recent happenings, and more to do with what could be next.
“I’m just hoping that what [Rhule’s] going to say is, ‘Come with me,'” Satterfield said Friday, at his introductory press conference as Nebraska’s offensive coordinator. “When he did, I didn’t even let him get it out of his mouth. I was like, ‘Heck yeah, let’s go.'”
As indicated, it didn’t take long for Rhule to find his offensive coordinator after being hired as Nebraska football’s head coach. The aforementioned call happened on the same day he was announced to be taking over the Huskers.
The quick connection makes sense, given the pair’s history. They first worked together in 2005 at Western Carolina, where Rhule was the associate head coach, along with holding three other positions, and Satterfield was the wide receivers coach. Both left after that season, but in Rhule’s first head coaching job, he hired Satterfield to be his offensive coordinator at Temple. The assistant also joined the head coach for part of his time at Baylor and the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
Satterfield left a Rhule-led staff twice — once to become Tennessee Tech’s head coach and another time to be South Carolina’s offensive coordinator — but the two have maintained a strong bond.
“We’re still really, really close,” Satterfield said. “I think the one thing is just the like-mindset that we have, you know, we expect football to be played a certain way, we expect coaches to coach a certain way. I think we’re truly aligned from that standpoint.”
As one may expect of a new college staff, Rhule has prior experience working with many of his assistants, but few go back as long as Satterfield. Even at 46 years old, Satterfield’s one of the oldest assistants on the staff. He refers to his offensive style — one that prioritizes huddles and fullbacks — as old-school. However, he and Rhule embrace fresh ideas, which is reflected in a youthful group of assistants.
“We’re not hiring guys that are splashes on paper for what they’ve done in the past,” Satterfield said. “I think that when you see coach and when you understand his mindset and his brain, he is unbelievable at developing players and he’s unbelievable at developing coaches.”
He said that Rhule helped him develop, partially by having him coach every offensive position outside of wide receiver at some point.
The development of players has been a major emphasis too since Rhule’s hiring, and Satterfield will hope to do his part in bringing the team to success. He mentioned wide receiver depth as a particularly glaring part of the offense he feels needs to be built up. He showed excitement over the potential of the quarterback and running back rooms, although acknowledging the need to see the team in practice action.
Growth throughout the season is something Satterfield felt was exemplified in his previous stop. South Carolina had inconsistencies on offense throughout the year prior to strong showings against Tennessee and Clemson. The offensive coordinator had praise for quarterback Spencer Rattler’s improvements, but also credited the team’s jump to his ability to stick to his coaching philosophy. That’s something Satterfield hopes to do with the Huskers, as well.
“It’s the same mindset as Coach Rhule, just development and not being stubborn in a bad way but just continuing to believe in what we believe in and continuing to coach,” Satterfield said. “If you do that and you trust that you just keep developing, keep coaching, you’re gonna end up playing well at the right time, which is at the end of the season.”