Nebraska Hires Matt Rhule as Coach: Why the Former Carolina Panthers Coach is a Good Fit

Nebraska have signed former Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule as head football coach, announced the program on Saturday morning. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Rhule, 47, has been at the top of the Cornhuskers’ target list for the past few weeks after he was fired by the Panthers on Oct. 10. Nebraska fired former coach Scott Frost on September 11.
  • Nebraska has signed Rhule to an eight-year contract. The school will officially introduce him at a press conference on Monday.
  • Rhule was offered the job earlier this month, sources previously reported the athleteand then Nebraska came back to him this week with a stronger package.
  • Mickey Joseph, a former assistant head coach for the Huskers, served as interim coach of Nebraska and led the Huskers to a 24-17 win in their season finale in Iowa on Friday.

What you say

Rhule said in a statement that it is an honor to lead the Nebraska program and he looks forward to returning to college football.

“It is a great honor to be selected to lead the Nebraska football program,” said Rhule. “When you think of great college football programs steeped in tradition, Nebraska tops the list. The fan base is second to none and I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to train at Memorial Stadium at 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.”

Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts said Rhule’s success as a coach at Temple and Baylor demonstrates Rhule’s ability to build a program and makes him an ideal candidate for Nebraska.

“It is a privilege to welcome Coach Matt Rhule, his wife Julie and their family to Nebraska,” Alberts said in a statement. “Coach Rhule has created a culture of success throughout his coaching career and will be excellent at leading the young men in our football programme. Matt is detail oriented, his teams are disciplined and play physical football. Matt also has the personality and relationship building skills to build great employees and excel in recruitment.”


Talks between Alberts and Rhule intensified this month, with transfer portal activity resuming in early December. The early signing phase begins two weeks later.

Rhule revived programs at Temple and Baylor from 2013 to 2019, winning 10 games or more in three of his seven seasons and was viewed by outsiders as a home run clerk. A native of New York, he trained on the East Coast aside from a season at UCLA as an assistant and his tenure at Baylor, but is familiar with the Big Ten as a former Penn State linebacker.

Rhule also thrived in an unfamiliar Texas environment, helping the Bears rebuild after a sexual assault scandal threatened to wreck the program.

His Panthers contract also increased his appeal to Alberts. Rhule signed a seven-year, $62 million contract in 2020 and owes him more than $40 million by the end of the contract. Any salary paid to Rhule by his next employer will be deducted from the amount the Panthers owe, so the program could get a relative bargain at Rhule – for the first four seasons of his contract.

Nebraska finished the season 4-8 after its upset against Iowa. Alberts was present in Iowa City. The Nebraska AD sophomore, originally from eastern Iowa, traveled separately from the Huskers to attend the final game of the season. An introductory press conference in Lincoln for Rhule could take place as early as Sunday. Nebraska officials reserved the Hawks Championship Center to host a hiring event without direct direction from Alberts on timing.

Why Rule is a good fit for Nebraska

Rhule’s personality will merge with the state of Nebraska. A native of New York, he has had success as a head coach in Pennsylvania and Texas. So it’s adaptable. Nebraskaans will like his work ethic and the respect he has already shown for the Nebraska program, which has won or shared five national titles. He told ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday that he grew up “adoring” the Huskers. Speaking to former coach Tom Osborne ahead of the announcement, Rhule praised the leadership at the university, including Joseph, the popular former Nebraska QB who coached the team for the final nine games of the season after Frost was fired. — sherman

What can Nebraska fans expect from Rhule?

He places a strong emphasis on building culture, a must for Nebraska — which has had no identity on offense for far too long. Rhule emphasizes the physical game. His track record at Temple and Baylor bears this out. Nebraska spoke a big game of physicality under Frost, but his play on the field belied that message. The Huskers were bullied by the likes of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois. And the new coach attaches great importance to unity. “When everyone wakes up every day with the same mission, that gives you a chance to do great things,” Rhule said. “It’s about everyone going in the same direction.” — sherman

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(Photo: Jim Dedmon / USA Today)