Matt Rhule has become one of the hottest candidates to make the transition from college coach to the NFL ranks. Rhule has taken over two collegiate programs and brought them from irrelevance to consistent winning programs. Prior to taking the head coaching job at Temple, Rhule was the assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants during the 2012 season.
Matt Rhule Would Be the Right Hire for the New York Giants
Rhule was named the head coach of the Temple Owls in 2013. At that time Temple had only three winning seasons since 2000. The Owls had played in only two bowl games during that time period. Tasked with resurrecting a program from the depths of mediocrity and obscurity, Rhule attempted to gain new ground.
But Rhule’s first season with the Temple Owls was difficult. The roster he inherited lacked talent across the board and they finished 2-10. In his second season with the program, they were able to improve to a .500 record. Temple finished sixth in the AAC, but still lagged far behind the powerhouses of the conference such as Memphis, Cincinnati, and UCF. But Rhule’s third season at Temple in 2015 was nothing short of magical.
The Owls began the season at home vs Penn State and that matchup broke the Temple game attendance record with 69,176 people. Penn State held a 31 game winning streak vs the Owls and hadn’t lost to Temple since 1941. Temple shocked the nation and upset Penn State in dominating fashion. Temple recorded 10 sacks and dominated the Nittany Lions 27-10. In the second game of the season, Temple played perennial AAC powerhouse Cincinnati, who they had not beaten since 1985, but the Owls came away with another impressive win.
Matt Rhule and the Owls started 7-0. Then, the undefeated Owls squared off against the number nine team in the nation, Notre Dame. The entire nation was buzzing about the turnaround Matt Rhule was able to pull off. Temple cracked the top 25 for the first time since 1979. College Gameday came to Temple for the first time in history and the entire nation was tuned in to see if Temple was deserving of their ranking, 21st in the country.
The game was an absolute thriller and Temple played close the entire game but fell short 24-21. It was a testament to the coaching job done by Matt Rhule and his staff that they were able to play Notre Dame so close, especially when the Irish clearly outmatched them in talent. The Owls finished 10-2 in the regular season and secured their second divisional title in program history. Temple lost both their conference title and bowl game but that does not take away from the remarkable turnaround that Matt Rhule had accomplished.
In the ensuing 2016 season, Temple was able to replicate their success and again win their division with a 9-3 regular-season record. They matched up against Navy in the conference championship and absolutely dominated the 20th ranked team in the nation to win their conference for the first time since 1967. Matt Rhule had successfully resurrected the Temple football program and led them to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in program history. The Owls were invited to the military bowl but Rhule would not attend. He had already resigned and accepted the position as the new head coach at Baylor University.
Matt Rhule’s first season, in 2017, as the head coach of Baylor was reminiscent of his first season with Temple. A dysfunctional team that wasn’t nearly as talented as past years, Rhule and the Bears finished 1-11. His second season with the team saw significant progress offensively. But the defense was not able to keep up with the Big 12 offensive juggernauts. The Bears averaged 29 points and 459 yards per game. Baylor finished above .500 at 7-6 in 2018 but were unable to beat a ranked team and finished 4-5 in conference play. In true Matt Rhule fashion, his third season was exceptional.
To begin the 2019 season, Baylor absolutely dominated the competition throughout the first nine games and the Bears started 9-0. Week 10 was a matchup with the powerhouse of the Big 12 conference, Oklahoma. Baylor entered halftime with a 31-10 lead but it would not last long. Oklahoma was able to pull off a sensational comeback in the second half and escape with a 34-31 win. Baylor again faced off against Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.
Oklahoma prevailed 30-23 but Baylor took them into overtime. Named AP Big 12 coach of the year, Matt Rhule and his team earned a matchup against number five Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Rhule has cemented himself as one of the best leaders in all of college football and a coach that has consistently gotten the most out of his players in the biggest of moments.
The NFL thinks very highly of Rhule. He was even given an interview for the Indianapolis Colts head coach opening in 2017. He is the perfect candidate for the Giants head coach opening because of his proven track record to turn around ailing programs. The Giants have one winning season in the past seven years. They haven’t been a consistently successful organization in a long time. Both of Matt Rhule’s college coaching stints have proven that he can turn around an organization. He also seems to be a true leader of men, something it seems the Giants haven’t had since Tom Coughlin left.