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BREAKING NEWS: Nebraska hires Matt Rhule

Sean Callahan11/26/22
Article written by:On3 imageSean Callahan

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Mike Comer via Getty Images.

Matt Rhule is Nebraska’s new head football coach.

Nebraska officially confirmed the hiring of Rhule Saturday morning. The school announced Rhule signed an eight-year contract, and will officially be announced during a news conference at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

NU’s search for a new head coach began on Sept. 11 following the firing of Scott Frost.

“It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to lead the Nebraska Football program,” Rhule said in a prepared statement. “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 became one of football’s hottest coaching names after an impressive rebuild at Baylor from 2017-19. After a rough 1-11 start in his first season, Rhule led the Bears to an 11-3 season and berth in the Sugar Bowl two years later.

Paired with his strong run at Temple, which included consecutive 10-win campaigns, Rhule jumped to the Carolina Panthers, where he was fired this season after five games. He finished his time in the NFL with a record of 11-27 over three seasons.

“It is a privilege to welcome Coach Matt Rhule, his wife Julie, and their family to Nebraska,” Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts said. “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.”

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Matt Rhule thrived at the college level

What made Rhule so successful at the college level was how well he related to his players. He built solid buy-in at both Temple and Baylor and made quick rebuilds at both stops. Rhule went from 2-10 to an AAC championship in four years at Temple. At Baylor, he took the Bears from 1-11 to Big 12 Coach of the Year in three seasons.

In 2015 at Temple, he took the Owls to a 7-0 start that included a win over alma mater Penn State in the season opener. ESPN’s College GameDay visited Temple that season for its match-up with Notre Dame at Lincoln Financial Field. That, along with the Owls’ AAC Championship in 2016, was the pinnacle of its program.

Rhule is also no stranger to walking into total rebuilds. In 2013 at Temple, he took over an Owl program that went 4-7 and was making a transition into the AAC from the Big East.

In late 2016, he took over at Baylor following the Art Briles sexual assault scandal from 2011 to 2016.

He’ll walk into a situation at Nebraska where the Cornhuskers have the longest Power Five streak without qualifying for a bowl game. The Huskers last bowl appearance was a loss to the Tennessee Volunteers in the 2016 Music City Bowl.

NU is coming off its worst stretch of football in modern-day program history. The Huskers have not qualified for a bowl game since winning nine games under Mike Riley in that 2016 season. 

Rhule takes the reigns from Mickey Joseph, who was 2-6 as the Huskers’ interim head coach entering Friday’s game in Iowa City.

The timing of the hire is also very important, as players can enter the NCAA transfer portal starting on Dec. 5. The early signing period for high school and junior college players begins Dec. 22.

Coaches can begin making in-home visits with recruits starting Dec. 2. The Huskers’ current committed players will be allowed to make an additional official visit to Lincoln with their families because of the head coaching change.

Since June 24, NU has only hosted one official visitor. The Huskers have used 32 of the NCAA-allowed 62 official visits for the 2023 recruiting cycle.