Rhule set to lead Bears forward

Photo credit: Anisha Zamana | Baylor Photography

Nathan Keil | Sports Writer

Baylor football has turned over a new leaf.

Last month Baylor hired former Temple head coach Matt Rhule as its next head football coach.

“We could not be more excited to welcome Matt, Julie and their children to the Baylor Family,” said Mack Rhoades, Baylor University Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “When we set out on our search for a new leader of our football program, we wanted a coach who shared our values, who had demonstrated success, who showed a true commitment to the overall student-athlete and who we believed could lead Baylor to a national championship. We found all of that and more in Matt and I know that he will be a perfect fit with the Baylor Family.”

The announcement came amidst the team’s preparation for the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, a game where Baylor defeated Boise State 31-12. Acting head coach Jim Grobe stayed on staff to coach through the bowl game, allowing Rhule to assemble the remainder of his coaching staff.

Rhule is veteran football coach. He has held various positions, including quarterbacks coach, offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. His stops have included a short stint with the New York Giants, as well as Albright College, University of Buffalo, UCLA and Western Carolina University.

For the greater part of the last ten years, Rhule and his family have called Temple University home. He compiled a record of 28-23 in four years as head coach of the Owls, including back-to-back 10 win seasons in 2015 and 2016. He coached Temple to a 34-10 victory over Navy in the American Athletic Conference Championship on Dec. 3 before departing for Baylor.

Based on his values and success on the field, Interim President David Garland has all the confidence that Rhule is the right man to lead Baylor football moving forward.

“This is a great day for Baylor University and the beginning of a new chapter in our football program,” Garland said. “Matt is the absolute right man at the right time to lead us forward and I am confident that his values are our values and that his teams and student-athletes will make us all proud, on and off the field.”

With each new job comes new challenges. It comes with new opportunities and for Rhule, coming to Baylor is a great and humbling honor.

“I am truly honored and humbled to join the Baylor Family,” Rhule said, “I can’t thank President Garland and Mack Rhoades enough for this incredible opportunity. Baylor is a tremendous institution with a history of football success and I know the passion that so many have for the Bears will help bring the community together to reach even greater heights. I am excited to get started.”

During Rhule’s introduction on Dec. 7, he laid out his three main expectations moving forward.

“We’re going to try to build great men. We want to develop them as people, develop their character. We want to help them in their spiritual walk,” Rhule said.

He later added that although it is not the most important objective, winning is still important in developing a great program.

“I want to win. These guys want to win, and we’re going to do that by building a team,” Rhule said. “Real teams win when they’re behind. Real teams win on the road. So we’re going to build a team that wins, that’s tough, that works hard and that’s competitive.”

Establishing a great program requires producing results year in and year out.

“Teams come and go, but great programs are marked by the longevity,” Rhule said. “They’re marked by how many great teams they put back to back.”

Rhule has been hard at work, completing his staff —which includes many of his old assistants at Temple — and staying proactive on the recruitment front. However, when he has not been hard at work in his office or visiting high school recruits, Rhule has been seen acclimating himself to the Baylor culture. First, he participated in the Bear Pit at the men’s basketball team’s recent win against Iowa State.

He also participated in the Coaches Film Room, where he was able to provide commentary and analysis during Monday’s College Football National Championship game.

Baylor nation will be able to see Rhule on the sidelines for the first time when the Bears host Liberty University on Sept. 2 at McLane Stadium. Time of the game has yet to be announced.