Nebraska hires Matt Rowley: The former Carolina Panthers coach will try to rebuild another college program

Nebraska has officially named Matt Rule to be its next head coach, the school announced Saturday. Rowley, who led turnovers at Temple and Baylor before trying his hand in the NFL, was fired as head coach of the Carolina Panthers earlier this year in his third season with the franchise.

“It is a great honor to have been selected to lead the Nebraska football program,” Rowley said. “When you think of great, tradition-rich programs in college football, Nebraska absolutely tops the list. The fan base is second to none, and I consider it an honor to have the opportunity to coach at Memorial Stadium at Tom Osborne Field. My family and I are so grateful to be a part of Husker family, and we can’t wait to get started.”

Best known for taking Baylor from 1-11 to an 11-3 campaign and a berth to the 2020 Sugar Bowl, Rhule drove one of the fastest turnovers in Power Five history. He also led Temple from 2-10 to 10 consecutive seasons and an AAC Championship in 2016 before leaving the Owls for the Bears. Temple hasn’t won more than eight games since leaving after the 2016 season, and has a record of 7-23.

“It is an honor to welcome Coach Matt Rowley, 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 will provide great leadership to the youth in our soccer program. Matt is detail-oriented, teams disciplined and plays a physical kind of football. Matt also has the character and relationship building skills to build a great team and excel at recruiting.”

He will be tasked with reviving the Cornhuskers in hopes of rediscovering form after a rough start to his Big Ten reign. The historically dominant program has fallen on hard times during a conference realignment, failing to win 10 games in a season since 2012, its first year in the league. Nebraska has not made a bowl game since 2016.

Rhule follows Scott Frost as coach. Frost, a former championship-winning quarterback with the ‘Huskers’, was seen as the savior of the program back in Lincoln, Nebraska. Instead, Frost compiled a record of 16–31 during one of the worst tenures as a coach in program history. He shot three games into the 2022 season after a 1-2 start and loss to Georgia Southern.

turned artist

When Rhule landed his two previous jobs – Baylor and Temple – both shows had deep depths to overcome. Baylor was on the heels of a massive Title IX scandal and only had one committed player when Rhule took over the program. Temple had several successful seasons, but fell to 4-7 before Steve Addazio left to take the Boston College job.

Either way, Rhule has ripped the software down to the studs and rebuilt them in his image – one of soccer with sophistication, durability and high IQ. Rhule won the AAC championship with Temple, bringing home only the second conference championship in program history. While Rhule hasn’t won a Big 12 Championship game himself at Baylor, his players have been the bulk of Dave Aranda’s Big 12 champions in 2021.

After nearly a decade in atrophy, Nebraska is in need of a makeover. Rhule will have the opportunity to rebuild the Cornhuskers and possibly bring back some fans who have missed the physicality since the heyday of the Blackshirt era in Nebraska football.

Terms of the contract

Rule was comfortably at Baylor, but interest from the NFL reached historic levels during the 2019 coaching cycle. Most expected Rhule to focus on the New York Giants—a hometown team for which he previously worked—but Carolina owner David Tepper offered Rule A whopping seven-year, $62 million contract before being interviewed anywhere else.

The Panthers still owe Rhule more than $34 million from his original contract offset language In his contract can lighten the load. However, the secured money could also play a role in potential contract negotiations with Nebraska.

Nebraska has plenty of money to pay off the $8.85 million in salary guaranteed by the Panthers, but the head coach’s salary could be a secondary consideration since Rhule will be paid by the Panthers for another four years.

organizational capacity

Rhule spent only one year of his long career west of Texas—one year spent as the defensive line coach at UCLA under Bob Toledo in 2001. However, Rhule’s greatest asset is his ability to assess intelligently and employ coaching talent to develop his weaknesses.

When Rhule took the Baylor job, he had never trained in Texas. However, Rhule reached out to the Texas High School Coaches Association, eventually hiring three high school coaches to their staff – off-field assistant David Wetzel, quarterbacks coach Sean Bell and current Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire. The trio instantly helped him become a favorite among fickle high school coaches.

Rhule already has a huge advantage over the staff – Mickey Joseph. The interim coach and former Nebraska quarterback has a clause in his contract that allows him to remain as receivers coach and assistant coach since he did not get the job full time. With his background in Nebraska and in the Southeast recruiting, Joseph would think nothing of staying aboard. While Rhule comes from the outside, he will quickly accept himself.

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