After six straight losing seasons and more than 20 years away from its 1990s heyday, Nebraska is looking to Matt Rhule to rebuild its football program and make it competitive in the Big Ten Conference.
Rhule has signed an eight-year contract to be the next Cornhuskers coach and will be introduced Monday at a press conference, the school announced on Saturday.
Rhule, 47, quickly toppled downtrodden programs at Temple and Baylor before leaving for the NFL to coach the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers fired him in October after entering its third season with four losses in five games.
“It is a tremendous honor to be selected to lead Nebraska’s football program,” Rhule said in a statement. “When you think of big, storied 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 at Memorial Stadium on Tom Osborne Field. My family and I are so grateful to be part of the Husker family, and we can’t wait to get started.
Rhule was 11-27 with Carolina and left with approximately $40 million remaining on the seven-year guaranteed $62 million contract he signed in 2020. The contract made Rhule the sixth coach on highest paid in the NFL when he signed in 2020, according to Forbes.
Nebraska said it will release details of Rhule’s contract on Monday.
“It’s a privilege to welcome coach Matt Rhule, his wife Julie and their family to Nebraska,” said athletic director Trev Alberts. “Coach Rhule has created a winning culture throughout his coaching career, and he will provide excellent leadership to the young men in our football programme.
“Matt is thorough, his teams are disciplined and play physical football. Matt also has the personality and relationship building skills to build great staff and excel at recruiting.
About an hour after Rhule was announced, catcher Trey Palmer announced on Instagram he would declare for the NFL Draft. Palmer, who transferred from LSU after last season, had three 150-yard games this year and set the Huskers single-season record with 1,043 yards.
The Huskers are one of eight Football Bowl Subdivision programs with at least 900 wins, and they have won or shared five national championships. The last came in 1997 under Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne.
Five coaches have come and gone since then, most recently quarterback for that 1997 team, Scott Frost.
Alberts fired Frost on 9/11 after the Huskers opened 1-2, with losses to Northwestern in Ireland and Georgia Southern at home. They were 3-6 under interim coach Mickey Joseph and finished the season 4-8 after a 24-17 victory at Iowa on Friday.
Nebraska was 16-31 in more than four seasons under Frost, never finishing above fifth in the Big Ten West or going to a bowl.
In four seasons at Temple, Rhule coached the Owls to 28 wins. This included 26 from 2014-16. Temple was 10-4 in 2015 and reached the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship game. In 2016, Rhule led the Owls to a 10-3 record and an AAC championship. The conference title was the first in 49 seasons for the Temple program, and the Owls reached bowl games in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.
Rhule was named Baylor coach in December 2016 following an investigation which found the private Baptist University failed to respond adequately to player sexual assault allegations, leading to Art’s dismissal. Briles.
Rhule’s trajectory was similar at Baylor, where he went from 1-11 in 2017 to 7-6 with a bowl game the following season. In its third and final season, Baylor was ranked in the top 10, made the Big 12 Championship Game, and finished 11-3 after a Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia.
Rhule’s college success gave him the opportunity to take over as head coach of the Carolina Panthers in 2020. He guided the Panthers to five wins in each of his first two seasons before leaving. 1-4 of this year doesn’t get him fired.
Rhule has ties to the Big Ten. He moved from New York to State College, Pennsylvania as a teenager. He played linebacker at Penn State from 1994 to 1997 and began training there as a volunteer assistant.
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