One of the hottest names in college football right now is Baylor Bears head coach Matt Rhule, and he may be heading to the NFL this offseason. In fact, sources tell Pro Football Network Insiders Tony Pauline and Ben Allbright that Rhule will be an even hotter candidate than Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley. But, where will he land and what is Rhule’s preference? Sources tell Pauline and Allbright that at least two teams are interested right now – the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers. And when it comes to Rhule’s preference, Pauline notes that if the New York Giants head coaching job opens up, he’s very interested in the position.
Rhule will be in such high demand because of his success not only at Baylor but also at Temple. After turning around a Temple program from 2013-2016, he took on his next challenge with the Bears. Following a 1-11 campaign in 2017, he led them to 7 wins in 2018. In 2019, they finished with an 11-1 record and nearly defeated Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game. Baylor finished the season ranked seventh in the nation and will play in the Sugar Bowl against fifth-ranked Georgia.
The way that Rhule has brought Baylor back from the dead, along with the way he has gotten the most out of his players, has not gone unnoticed amongst NFL owners and key decision-makers. And it hasn’t been something that has come out of nowhere in the past few days. Back in Week 11, Pauline reported that NFL teams would line up for the opportunity to hire Rhule.
“I’ve mentioned numerous times that Matt Rhule will be one of the hottest coaching candidates in the offseason. I’m told NFL teams love him and those looking for a HC in the offseason will line up for a chance to hire him.”
That report was reiterated by Allbright during the Big 12 Championship loss.
Matt Rhule will have his pick of NFL jobs, should he want to leave Baylor.
Three teams already interested.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) December 8, 2019
While numerous teams will be chasing Rhule this offseason, will the feeling be mutual? Does he already have a preference for where he would like to coach in 2020? As noted earlier, Pauline’s sources have told him that if the Giants head coaching job opens up, he’s interested in the position. However, Allbright reports that Rhule would want near-total authority. Would Giants general manager Dave Gettleman be willing to concede power to Rhule?
If he isn’t, the Giants could become the second New York/New Jersey team to be left at the altar. If you recall, Rhule was one of the three final candidates for the Jets head coaching position. When former general manager Mike Maccagnan told Rhule that he wouldn’t be able to choose his own staff, he removed his name for consideration. Rhule went back to Baylor, but not before taking one last parting shot at the Jets.
“I don’t want to say anything about THAT job … at the end of the day, I’m never going to be in an arranged marriage,” he said on ESPN 1660 in Dallas. “I’m never going to sub-contract out jobs for offense and defense. I’m always going to hire people I believe in … and are going to do things our way.”
In a way, there is some irony with the thought that Rhule could be working in the same stadium as the Jets. But, the Giants make a lot of sense for a number of reasons. First, his only NFL experience actually came as the assistant offensive line coach for Tom Coughlin’s 2012 Giants team. Additionally, Rhule grew up in New York City before his family moved to State College, Pennsylvania when he was a teenager.
If it doesn’t work out with the Giants, where could Rhule land? Pauline and Allbright have been told that the Dallas Cowboys, who will likely be looking for a new head coach at the end of the season, are interested in interviewing Rhule. However, with Jerry Jones acting as both owner and general manager, it may not make sense for Rhule to take that job since he won’t have as much control over personnel as he’d like.
Additionally, there would be some competition in Dallas, as Pauline and Allbright note that Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley is going to be at the top of Jones’ list.
Allbright reports that the Panthers are another team interested in interviewing Rhule, and with owner Dave Tepper getting the chance to make his first hire, this would be an attractive option. But like the rest of the teams in play, will he be willing to give Rhule what he wants in terms of personnel power?
All of this remains to be seen but there is one thing we know for sure – Matt Rhule will be talked about quite often in the weeks following the last NFL regular-season game.