Former West Virginia quarterback Will Grier will see a familiar face in his NFL locker room this upcoming season.
After at the helm of the Baylor Bears for the last three seasons, former head coach Matt Rhule has been signed as the Carolina Panthers’ next head coach after Panthers personnel reportedly visited him at his Texas home on Monday.
Rhule, 44, replaces Ron Rivera who was fired four games remaining in the 2019 season. After the firing, Panthers owner David Tepper stated he was looking to break the cycle of mediocrity.
Tepper looks for Rhule to be their guy, who’s coaching history shows he is up for the challenge.
Rhule took over for the Bears during the 2017 season with a depleted roster and finished his first season with a 1-11 record. The team improved to 7-6 in 2018 with a Texas Bowl win against Vanderbilt (45-38).
Baylor had a successful season in the Big 12, ending with an 11-3 record. Despite No. 7 Baylor’s loss in the Sugar Bowl to No. 5 Georgia 26-14, the Bears’ turnaround put NFL teams on notice.
“I think Matt Rhule can come in here and build an organization for the next 30 or 4o years,” Tepper said in an article on the Panthers website. “He can build it.”
This is not the first time Rhule has turned a program around.
Prior to being at Baylor, Rhule assisted in a rebuild at Temple. The Owls went 2-10 in his first season but turned that around to back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2016 and 2016. From 2002-05, Rhule was an assistant coach at Western Carolina and was a part of the staff of UCLA in 2001, Buffalo in 1999 and Albright College in 1998. Rhule was a walk-on linebacker at Penn State from 1994-97.
The only NFL coaching experience Rhule has is being an assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants in 2012.
The Panthers are showing their trust in Rhule by paying him money, making him one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL, according to a series of Tweet’s posted by NFL Network Inisder Ian Rapoport.
The #Panthers are signing new coach Matt Rhule to a 7-year, $62M contract, source said, which includes a $2.5M signing bonus. He has incentives for team goals including winning seasons, playoff wins and Super Bowls that take him far beyond $62M. A pretty large commitment.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 7, 2020
According to the Panthers website, Rhule first spoke to the media after agreeing to terms with the Panthers outside his home, discussing things from his family, talking with his players at Baylor and the change from college to professional football.
“It’s the same thing,” Rhule said. “It’s about getting the right staff, the right players, getting everyone moving in the same direction. Whatever process you put in place, learning that process and just getting better and better and better. When I came here, I had no time frame for anything, I’ll have no time frame for anything. For me, everything’s about day to day and just grinding, just working. We’ll go there, we’ll start working tomorrow and see what we can get done. To, me it’s the same thing. Football is football. It’s just about getting everyone moving in the same direction and getting the right people and just bearing with it until you get there.”
Rhule will begin by hiring coordinators and assistant coaches.