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Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Announces Matt Rhule as New Football Coach

November 26, 2022

Nebraska has its next football coach. Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts will introduce Matt Rhule as the next head coach of the historic program on Monday, ending a two-month search to replace former coach and player Scott Frost. Alberts confirmed this news in a press release issued today, officially announcing the hire.

Alberts will introduce Rhule during a 1:30 p.m. press conference on Monday at Hawks Championship Center.

“It is a privilege to welcome Coach Matt Rhule, his wife Julie, and their family to Nebraska,” Alberts said in a release. “Coach Rhule has created a winning culture throughout his coaching career, and he will provide great leadership for the young men in our football program. Matt is detail-oriented, his teams are disciplined and play a physical brand of football. Matt also has the personality and relationship-building skills to build a great staff and excel in recruiting.”

Rhule takes over as the 31st football coach in the program’s 132-year history as the Huskers just finished 4-8. Frost started the season 1-2, after four full losing seasons, before Alberts removed him and appointed Mickey Joseph as interim head coach. Joseph went 3-6 to finish the season. It’s not immediately known if Joseph, whose contract stipulates he return to his role at the beginning of the year as associate head coach and wide receivers coach, will be part of Rhule’s staff.

“It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to lead the Nebraska Football program,” Rhule said in the university’s statement Saturday. “When you think of great, tradition-rich programs in college football Nebraska is right at the top of the list.  The fan base is second to none, and I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to coach in Memorial Stadium on Tom Osborne Field. My family and I are so grateful to become a part of the Husker Family, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Rhule was most recently fired as head coach of the Carolina Panthers on October 10, nearly a full month after Nebraska’s head coaching position opened. There was a mutual interest between the two parties as the Huskers entered the final stretch of their regular season. They finally came to terms on an agreement as Nebraska’s season ended without a bowl game for the sixth consecutive year.

“Matt is a fierce competitor and leader of young men who will bring the right character and culture to our program,” University of Nebraska President Ted Carter  said in a statement. “I have full confidence that Matt will bring Husker football back to where we want it to be. Go Big Red!”

Rhule is known for his ability to build college football programs. He spent 15 years as a positional assistant coach in college and the NFL before taking over Temple in 2013. As head coach, he took Temple from two wins to consecutive 10-win seasons in four years. Baylor hired Rhule at that point, and went from 1 win to 11 wins in three seasons. The Bears played in the Sugar Bowl during Rhule’s last season in Waco, which earned him Big 12 Coach of the Year honors. As a head coach in college football, Rhule is a combined 19-20. Notable during his three years at Baylor, Rhule never defeated a ranked opponent.

The Carolina Panthers hired him ahead of the 2020 season. He went 11-27 in Carolina over two seasons and change, receiving his dismissal from the Panthers after a 1-4 start this season. He was credited with immediately improving Carolina’s secondary but failed to secure a franchise quarterback and build a team fitting his reputation of a program builder in college.

“I hope I get another chance to coach,” he told NFL Network’s Good Morning Football earlier this month. “I’ll try to do some things better football-wise. But at the end of the day, relationships and players knowing that you’ll do whatever you can for them, that’s the most important.”

Rhule, 47, is a product of the northeast, now in the Big Ten footprint. He was born in New York and moved with his family to State College, Pennsylvania. He walked on at Penn State in the mid 1990s and remained Happy Valley as a volunteer assistant. He spent one year at Albright College as a linebackers coach before two seasons as defensive line coach at Buffalo and one season at UCLA. He worked his way up at Western Carolina over four seasons, starting as special teams and linebackers coach, then adding associate head coach and running game coordinator to his responsibilities. From there, Temple hired him as an assistant for six years. Rhule served as defensive line coach, quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, and offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. The New York Giants hired him as assistant offensive line coach for one year before Rhule returned to Temple to start his head coaching career.

“Matt is a good, young coach,” former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said of Rhule when Temple hired him. “He has very good command, and is thorough and detailed in his assignments and with personnel. He has an outstanding background in the game, and the players like and respect him. He will be a great representative for Temple University and leader of that football program.”

Rhule left the college ranks highly regarded as a recruiter. After his first year at Temple he secured the No. 69 recruiting class in the country. By his final year the Owls secured the No. 59 recruiting class nationally. When Baylor hired Rhule, the Bears had just one commitment in its 2017 recruiting class. Over five weeks, Rhule secured commitments from 29 football players for the nation’s No. 40 recruiting class, to rebuild Baylor amid fallout of the sexual assault investigations during the Art Briles era. That recruit class consisted of three ESPN 300 standouts and 11 prospects previously committed to other Power 5 programs. An investigation brought sanctions against the Baylor program and the Bears won just 1 game. Despite this, Rhule led Baylor to the No. 29 recruiting class and the Bears returned to bowl eligibility the next year. Then a Big 12 Championship appearance and the Sugar Bowl.

He’ll have just a limited window to build a staff, recruit current players to remain at Nebraska, recruit high school and junior college players, then fill in potential roster gaps via the transfer portal.

Naturally, there was no mention of what staff he plans to assemble at Nebraska. In total, five of his former Baylor assistants went to the NFL, including three who followed Rhule to Carolina. Phil Snow, his defensive coordinator at Baylor and Temple, also joined him in Carolina and remains on staff. Jeff Nixon was Rhule’s co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Baylor and Carolina. Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Glenn Thomas is the sole offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arizona State. His former associate head coach and various positions coach Joey McGuire is currently head coach at UTSA. Glenn Satterfield, associate head coach and tight ends coach under Rhule at Baylor, is now the offensive coordinator at South Carolina.

For now, it’s just Matt Rhule. He now leads Nebraska, a program with championship aspirations despite six consecutive losing seasons, into a new era.

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