Panthers Hire Baylor's Matt Rhule as New Head Coach

The Carolina Panthers have hired Matt Rhule to be their new Head Coach.  Rhule has a legacy of turning around struggling college programs, feat he accomplished at both Temple and Baylor over the last decade.  The 44-year-old Rhule is also known as a forward-thinker who embraces analytics, a trait that new Panthers owner David Tepper wanted his coach to embrace and likely contributed to Ron Rivera's firing.

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68 comments, Last at 12 Jan 2020, 12:11am

1 Good for Rhule. Panthers…

Good for Rhule. Panthers was the plum job this offseason. The only major negative is that it's in the NFCS which has no-one has been able to dominate over the past decade.

4 Wish him the best of luck . . .

He obviously did a great job in turning around that program, but I didn’t have a chance to watch many Baylor games. Kudos to him for the turnaround. But the Georgia game this year—he sure did not look like a forward-thinking coach in that one. Maybe he just had an off day, but I wasn't impressed watching that game (even before his starting QB got knocked out, which was too bad as it briefly looked like Baylor might come back to make a game of it).

6 Joe Judge to the New York Giants Football Team

Joe Judge to the New York Giants Football Team.

A former Patriots' ST coordinator for many years (strong unit) and WR coach in the last one (meh unit). Curious at least that he leapfrogged McDaniels.

7 7 years, 60 million, for a…

7 years, 60 million, for a guy with 1 year in the NFL as an assistant o-line coach, two good seasons as a head coach in the American Athletic Conference, one in the Big 12.

I must be really out of touch with the head coach market in the NFL. What's Belichick worth? 35-40 million a year?

44 I'm more surprised by the…

I'm more surprised by the money than the years. I think coaches aren't blind to guys being fired after a year or two, and want these long contracts to increase the chance that they'll get 3 or 4 years to build a program, and won't just be shoved out the door if the GM changes (GMs might also like that it gives an incentive to keep them around too). Teams may be willing to eat a year or two of a contract to fire a coach early, but they aren't going to eat five years unless the results are truly appalling.

68 You should be aware that…

You should be aware that most coaching contracts include offset language.  In short, if they end up firing Rhule during the contract, then they'll only owe him the difference between his Carolina deal and the contract at his next stop.  And since he'll likely continue to be a hot commodity in the college ranks regardless of how the Carolina job pans out, Rhule will probably command $2MM+ in the event of a firing.  So this deal is less risky than it seems.

13 It's amazing, really. A guy…

It's amazing, really. A guy like Zimmer toils for decades in the NFL, waiting until he is in his late 50s to get a head coach job, apparently because he is constitutionally unable to engage in any bullshit, no matter who he is talking to, no matter the setting. He finally gets a job, with a team that has the third or fourth best qb in the division. He proceeds to win 9.5 games a season for 6 years, never winning fewer than 7, is now 2-2 in the playoffs, while having average to really bad injury luck in 5 of the 6 seasons. 

He makes 4 million a year. Matt Rhule's next paycheck will be about 80% larger.

18 Tepper is making bad…

Tepper is making bad decision after bad decision. I suspect that his fund management experience has made him think he is smarter than everyone else on every topic.  I'd be surprised if the Panthers have even the little bit of the success they have had in the past, moving forward under Tepper. 

58 I actually love the hire…

I actually love the hire. You can quibble about the money, but I think the Tepper/Rhule combination could be excellent.

It's about organization and process and I think Rhule gets that more than just about anybody. His results at two college backwaters are beyond impressive.

23 Deserves republishing..... …

Deserves republishing.....

"They say time heals all wounds, but there are plenty of people who would love to know how Minnesota Vikings head coach and former Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer really feels about the University of Louisville firing head coach Bobby Petrino on Sunday.


Zimmer was the Atlanta Falcons' defensive coordinator in 2007 when Petrino resigned as the team's head coach before the season ended and became the University of Arkansas' head coach. Zimmer became the Bengals' defensive coordinator in 2008, and remained in that position until he became the Vikings' head coach in 2014. 

Here's what Zimmer told The Enquirer in 2010 about Petrino's resignation as the Falcons' head coach:

On going back to Atlanta, Zimmer said about that season: "I was never even there as far as I am concerned. I never even was there. When a coach quits in the middle of the year and ruins a bunch of people's families and doesn't have enough guts to at least finish out the year. I am not a part of that." 

Pretty good stuff, but it gets even better in his appraisal of Petrino: "He is a coward. Put that in quotes. He ruined a bunch of people's lives, a bunch of people's families, kids, because he didn't have enough nuts to stay there and finish the job. That's the truth." 

When asked if he had seen a two days like that before, where the Falcons lost on Monday Night Football, a coach resigns and then is doing "Woo Pig Sooie" 24 hours later in front of Arkansas boosters, Zimmer said: "No, most people in football have enough courage about them and enough fight to stick through something and not quit halfway through the year. It is cowardly. 

"He came in and said he resigned, he would talk to us all at a later date, walked out of the office and no one has ever talked to him since. Not that anybody wanted to. 

"He’s a gutless b-----d. Quote that. I don't give a s---." When told that we might might not be able to use the B word, Zimmer went one better: "How about this, gutless MF. You can use that."

30 Same thing with Fangio who…

Same thing with Fangio who didn't get hired until he was 60! He seems like a fantastic, good-humored guy, with an amazing resume. When the Broncos hired him I was shocked he'd never been a HC before

31 Rhule was getting $4M/year…

Rhule was getting $4M/year at Baylor. He was leading candidate for the Giants and had been one for the Browns.

His advantage is comfort and a history of success with reclamation projects. He has stepped into deeply dysfunctional cultures and righted the ships.

26 If Belichick were 10 years…

If Belichick were 10 years younger and you knew you were getting him for a decade, I'm not convinced there are more than 5 players I'd take over him. I'd say $35-$40 is a good starting point. And with no cap, I don't think it's crazy to say he could be worth $50M.

34 Winning anywhere is not…

Winning anywhere is not trivial, but the guy prior to Arians had a .600 winning percentage for about a decade, and Al Golden, just fired as linebackers coach for the Lions, had similar success to Ruhle, while at Temple. 

Hey, for all I know, the guy is Lombardi and Belichik squared. I'm just saying two good years in a minor college conference, and 1 in the weakest power 5, and 1 year of NFL experience, as an assistant o-line coach, doesn't scream 60 million guaranteed to me.

35 To me, the only coaches who…

To me, the only coaches who deserve that kind of money are coaches who have proven beyond a doubt that they can win despite changing talent. That to me is the only way we can really know a coach is great. 


Its amazing to me how much our opinion of John Fox has deteriorated based on a dumbass decision in a playoff game in OT and his tenure in Chicago which oversaw a prolonged rebuild.  Prior to that, he did get to the playoffs with and win a playoff game with Tim Freaken Tebow. And prior to that he had a lot of success with the Panthers. 

43 I'm not convinced.  In 2006…

I'm not convinced.  In 2006-2007, Fox gave Deshaun Foster 474 carries and 82 targets while DeAngelo Williams had 265 carries and 74 targets.

Foster:  3.7 yards per carry, 69.5% catch rate, and 6.0 yards per reception

Williams: 4.6, 75.7%, 8.7

I know RBs have to pass protect but Foster would have to be a HoF blocker to deserve that much more usage.  I never understood why Fox did that and have a hard time thinking a good coach would use a demonstrably worse back so much more.

45 I'm not saying I know you…

I'm not saying I know you are wrong, but there are a significant number of assumptions you are making in this argument which need to be closely examined, in order to evaluate the argument. For instance, the point may not be that one guy is a HOF blocker, but rather that the other guy is so disinterested in pass pro that he risks significant injury to the quarterback. In general, I rarely 2nd guess depth chart decisions, because if you aren't watching practices and other preparations, you really are too poorly informed to make confident judgements.

48 There is merit in what you…

There is merit in what you say. There are lots of reasons to give a player more time.  Some are good - practice habits, managing 53 personalties, injury concerns, etc.  Some are bad - a preference for vets the coach has grown attached to, front office pressure to play the higher-drafted guy, etc.  We cannot know everything that goes into these decisions, I agree. 

However, we can see the results on the field, especially at QB, RB, and receiver.  At some level, those results reflect practice and preparation - or else, the practice and preparation is not useful.  Williams' results were better than Foster's.  But Foster got more carries and targets.  I think that is questionable coaching

46 They were the same guy in…

They were the same guy in 2006. Williams was better in 2007, which is why he became the guy in 2008, backed up by Jonathan Stewart. In 2009, Williams and Stewart split duties fungibly.

Williams never spent a year as a full-time back in his career. I suspect he wasn't physically up to it.

49 In 2006, by DVOA and DYAR,…

In 2006, by DVOA and DYAR, they were almost exactly the same at running the ball.  Foster was 27th in DYAR, Williams 28th; Foster 26th in DVOA and Williams was 25th.

But as receivers, Williams was head-and-shoulders better:  6th in DYAR and 2nd in DVOA, Foster was 53rd/48th.  Williams was one of the best receiving backs in the league as a rookie, Foster was one of the worst.

The next season, there was no doubt Williams was better running the ball:  19th/10th in rushing DYAR/DVOA, to Foster's 46th/44th.  Curiously, though, Foster got far more carries.

FWIW, both were bad in receiving in 2007, around 50th in DYAR and DVOA on almost identical target numbers.

Here's the list of RBs from 2006-2011 (Williams' rookie year to his age 28 season) who averaged over 5 yards per carry, minimum 500 attempts:  DeAngelo Williams. 

I did cherry pick those seasons to get Williams' seasons when he was "young", he clearly had a drop in performance at age 29; the 5/500 standards were arbitrary.  It's still telling that no other back was gaining that many yards per carry (yes, that stat has limitations).

Williams was a great runner when he was young.  Fox' failure to use him more in his first several seasons was a coaching mistake.

50 We haven't evaluated usage…

We haven't evaluated usage.

A workhorse back who is used as a safety valve on dump-offs will have a poor receiving DVOA. A non-blocking RB who gets split out and used as a slot receiver will have a decent receiving DVOA.

DVOA tends to punish receptions that trade a 2 yard gain for what would have been a 4 yard loss.

53 This is more complex than…

This is more complex than you are indicating here, and absent some really detailed charting data, it really doesn't lend to the strong conclusions you are making here. The more I watch this game, the more I appreciate how its complexity defies strong conclusions.

56 I don't have the time…

I don't have the time/inclination/data access to dig deeper, but I'll stick with this strong conclusion: Williams was a better RB than Foster  If you're both saying that the decision of Fox to give Foster more carries/targets than Williams was NOT bad coaching, which is a different argument, well, I disagree, but I see your points.

Edit to add:  written before theslotlook posted, this was in response to "Will" and "Aaron"

In response to theslotloook:  just one example that has stuck with me for 10+ years.

63 Rhule vs Golden

Rhule had a significantly better record than Golden at Temple.  Rhule was 28-23 in 3 years.  Golden was 27-34 in 5 years (10-26 in his first three years).  And they both started from similarly awful places.  Rhule then did it again at Baylor, going from 1-11 to 7-6 to 11-3.


10 I would have hoped that…

I would have hoped that Tepper would have replaced Ron Rivera, a man widely known for his personal integrity, with someone with similar pedigree. Instead his is going back to his Pittsburgh/western Pennsylvania fandom.

I see now that Rhule was mixed up in that Jerry Sandusky pedophilia mess.

"His defensive coordinator in college was Jerry Sandusky - and his father, Dennis, worked for Sandusky's now-shuttered charity, The Second Mile - a nonprofit organization for underprivileged youth, providing help for at-risk children and support for their parents in Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1977 by Jerry Sandusky.
"The Second Mile's Founder, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested on charges of child sexual abuse in November 2011.[13] In June 2012, he was found guilty on 45 of the 48 counts against him.[14][15] Sandusky met all of the victims through The Second Mile."

It seems Rhule's father was an effective recruiter too. :(

15 No he wasnt

Based on your own cited “evidence,” Matt Rhule was not “mixed up in that Jerry Sandusky pedophilia mess.”

20 How do you figure that? It…

In reply to by Stendhal1

How do you figure that? It seems you just say that the evidence presented does not support the statement, but you don't explain why it does not. 

38 Damning by (weak) association

Allow me to state the obvious: You have provided no evidence that Rhule took any direct or indirect action to enable Sandusky's despicable behavior, nor that he participated with Sandusky in his pedophilia, nor that he had knowledge of Sandusky's behavior and failed to intervene. What possible meaning of "mixed up in..." could fit the weak association between Sandusky and Rhule that you've offered?

40 It's as flimsy a charge as…

It's as flimsy a charge as saying the garbage men who emptied Sandusky's waste baskets or coffee barista who brewed his coffee were mixed up with him. 


In thinking it over, it is the most baffling, illogical comment I've ever read on FO.

47 Wow. I definitely want you…

Wow. I definitely want you on my jury if I'm guilty of a crime. 

Rhule's father worked for the organization that Sandusky used to select and then to sexually abuse children. Sandusky had a close relationship with the entire family, which is why Rhule could 'walk-on' at Penn State. The organization itself was not just a cover-up for pedophilia, it was also a cover-up for misappropriation of funds, which the Rhule family benefited from. 
Perhaps the Rhules had no knowledge of the pedophilia to which they contributed.  Pedophilia is not something to just wave away. Perhaps the Rhule's didn't know, but they should have. 
To ridicule that connection to Sandusky as 'weak' or 'not existent' is exactly the asinine thought process that allows pedophilia to fester in the sports world, as long as the sports teams keep winning.
I don't want pedophilia associated with any team that I root for, no matter how much they win. Some things matter more than sports. 
I am disturbed that you don't agree.

52 "I don't want pedophilia…

"I don't want pedophilia associated with any team that I root for, no matter how much they win. Some things matter more than sports. 
I am disturbed that you don't agree."

I agree with this part of your statement, and am disturbed that you read anything I've said as disagreement with it. There was an exhaustive investigation into how pedophilia was allowed to fester for so long at Penn State, and to my knowledge, Matt Rhule was never implicated in any of it. Your thesis seems to be that he's implicated because his father had an employment relationship with Sandusky, and he was allowed to play football at Penn State as a result of that relationship. I'm disturbed that you're willing to paint one man with another's guilt over that fact.

55 Which is why I said and…

Which is why I said and continue to maintain...its the most baffling, illogical comment I've ever read on FO. Even this whole guilt by association is based on unsupported hearsay. 

57 It's truly bizarre. We've…

It's truly bizarre. We've got an unsourced quotation that indicates Matt Rhule played for Sandusky at Penn State and his father worked for an unspecified period of time for The Second Mile charity. We don't know from the quotation whether Rhule's father worked for The Second Mile before, during, or after Rhule's time at Penn State, how long he worked there, what his role with the organization was, nor how much direct interaction he had with Sandusky. Neither do we know if Rhule was living with his father at any time during said employment. From this information, we leap to the whole family having a close relationship with Sandusky, and because of this close relationship, Rhule getting to play for the Nittany Lions despite lacking the requisite skill. Then we take a bigger leap to land at the conclusion that every member of the family probably knew what Sandusky was up to, but even if they didn't know that Sandusky was a pedophile, they should have (you know, because pedophiles aren't very good at hiding their pedophilia). As if that weren't damning enough, we'll go ahead and heap on the accusation that Rhule's father was involved in all sorts of other nefarious activities with the charity, for which somehow Rhule is also culpable.

64 Rhule's dad

apparently worked for the Second Mile for one year (not sure what year this was).  Rhule walked on at Penn State, which was not completely unusual for State College High grads.  Rhule's family only moved to State College from New York City when he was 16, so it's unlikely that he had significant connections to Sandusky before playing at Penn State.  So, yes to say Rhule was mixed up in it is very strange indeed.


14 The Jets were supposed to…

The Jets were supposed to hire Rhule last year, but they didn't allow him control of hiring his own coaches- specifically, they balked at his choice of defensive coordinator, probably because the team wanted Gregg Williams. Perhaps that's why Rhule asked for and got so much. 7 years is a lot, and if Cam is done, there's no franchise quarterback in house.

62 I wouldn't extrapolate the…

I wouldn't extrapolate the Jets incompetence during the last offseason to the rest of the league.  Not sure if your last sentence is meant to be ironic, but the Jets did end up letting Gase be involved in the GM search process.  I think that process worked out better than the one that ended with the Jets hiring Gase.  Also think the Jets would have been better off just hiring Williams as the head coach.  Both the special teams and defense ended up top ten in DVOA, and those coaches deserve credit for that.

61 I'm no fan of Greggg as a…

I'm no fan of Greggg as a person, but he did a heck of a job with the Jets defense this year.  The team had no starting quality CBs, no edge rushers, and lost both starting MLBs before the end of the first game, and ended up 10th in defensive DVOA.  Jamal Adams is great, but that unit had no business being good this year.   

67 I didn't realize they…

I didn't realize they finished that high this year. It looks like that's mostly an extremely good run defense making up for a below-average pass defense. I have no idea if that split means anything going forward, but that sounds like an interesting topic to look at!