One of the bad things about Pat Shurmur getting canned is that it opens the door for Matt Rhule to return to the New York Giants, where he worked as an assistant under Tom Coughlin back in 2012.
Anybody who follows Temple or college football knows what kind of coach Rhule is, a guy who can turn around a program in short order and make it relevant. He had the Owls at 7-0 a few years back and brought enough attention to North Philly that College Gameday decided to visit Independence Mall, which tells you all you need to know about the job he did back in 2015.
He left for Baylor afterward, a program recovering from a horrendous and very public scandal. Sans scholarships and talent, he took the Bears from 1-11 to 7-6 to 11-2 with a Big 12 Championship Game and Sugar Bowl berth in three short years.
All of that means that Rhule is one of America’s best football coaches right now, and as a result, his name is already popping up in connection to the Giants job:
Baylor’s Matt Rhule is prominent in Giants coach search, per sources. He served as assistant under Tom Coughlin in 2012.
Jets job was Rhule’s to turn down last season. He said no to Jets.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) December 30, 2019
Rhule had been earlier linked to the Carolina Panthers job, which resulted in him addressing his players during practice down in New Orleans, where the Bears will play Georgia on Wednesday night. At the Dallas Morning News, Sam Blum shares some details of that meeting:
….before practice at the New Orleans Saints’ facility, Rhule decided to address the elephant in the room with his team and coaching staff.
“He said, if he has an opportunity to talk with an NFL team, it would be kinda dumb not to,” sophomore linebacker Terrel Bernard said. “Just for him, personally. We have a veteran team, I think all the guys understand where he’s coming from.”
“I know he’s going to be with us no matter what, he told us that,” said junior defensive tackle James Lynch. “And I trust him on everything he says. He’s a great coach and he deserves that, too. I feel like the best thing for us to worry about is just going out and playing well again, to show Baylor who is and who we are.”
Fair enough; seems like the honest way to do things and his players seem to love playing for him. He does reportedly have a huge buyout, but that shouldn’t be an issue for an NFL team.
For what it’s worth, Rhule was indeed connected to the Jets job last year. Various reports out there suggest he wasn’t on board with the personnel set up, and he told a Texas radio station that he wanted to bring in his own assistants:
Without naming the Jets specifically, Rhule explained his stance on the job opening and his philosophy on a preference to hire his own coaching staff in a radio interview Friday.
“I don’t want to say anything about that job,” Rhule said on ESPN 1160 in Dallas. “At the end of the day, I’m never going to be in an arranged marriage. 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, that are going to believe in process, that are going to be part of a program. I truly believe that programs win.”
Does that extend to working with GM Dave Gettleman? Gettleman was a “Senior pro personnel analyst” when Rhule was the assistant offensive line coach up in the Meadowlands, so the pair did work together. Still, would Rhule go to New York knowing that his general manager is already in place? Or would he hold out and perhaps stay in Texas and talk to Jerry Jones about the Cowboys soon-to-be open gig?
Either way, it’s somewhat sad for Philadelphia football fans. Rhule is a great coach and a good dude who did excellent things with the Temple program. It would be disappointing to see him go to an NFC East rival, but he’d absolutely deserve the opportunity.