Coach Matt Rhule opened up by thanking the Big 12 and commissioner Bowlsby and congratulating Lincoln Riley for winning the conference last season.
He said after his first season in the Big 12, he was impressed with the quality of the league and its coaching. He then said he was really proud of his players and the organization and said that Mack Rhoades is running as fine an athletic department as any in the country off the field.
He said on the field, year 1 wasn’t what he wanted but he’s looking forward to year 2. The Bears were in a lot of close games, so Coach Rhule thinks finding ways to win is critical for year 2.
He then opened himself up to questions.
He was first asked if he would take advantage of playing players early given the new 4-game redshirt rule. He first thanked Gary Patterson for leading the charge on this rule, and said he would certainly take advantage of it and that it would have helped a lot last year with all the injuries the Bears faced.
Next, Rhule was asked if all the freshmen Baylor played last year look different/stronger. Rhule said they all look a lot better. He said they have “youthful” experience, where they’re talented but still 18-19 years old. He thinks the team learned its lessons last year, because “last year stunk.” But the freshmen all went through “the fire” and learned a lot, even though there is still some youth.
Rhule was then asked about defensive playmakers. Rhule responded by saying many think you can’t play defense in the Big 12, but TCU and Iowa State proved that wrong last season. He said Baylor’s defense will start up front with Ira Lewis and others. Then, the secondary is up next with him mentioning Harrison Hand having a good season last season, Gary Arnold not being 100% last year, and Verkedrick Vaughns having a year in the system at safety. He said at Temple, there was a fire Coach Snow Facebook page year 1, but year 2 he was paying him more money to keep him. He said Coach Snow’s system takes time to learn.
The transfer rule was brought up next. Coach Rhule said he has no problem with the new transfer rule, he said he doesn’t ever block transfers. He said he spends a lot of time with players and if it just isn’t the right atmosphere, they should be able to leave. He did caveat that they shouldn’t be able to leave September 1st and get 3 months of scholarship.
The next question focused on Charlie Brewer’s development. Rhule said he needs to keep Charlie “Charlie.” He said that Brewer would be in the huddle telling Coach Rhule to calm down as a true freshman, and its that intangible fun/calmness that makes him good. He also said the receivers and offensive pieces around him will “keep Charlie sharp.” He finished saying he likes competition so hopefully that leads to improvements across the board.
Rhule was then asked about Jalen McClendon’s transfer and he said he played for a coach he trusts and knows well at NC State but he hasn’t seen him throw yet so he doesn’t know where he stands. He said if they played today, Charlie Brewer would clearly be the starter.
Then Rhule was asked if he’s reflected on the saying at Baylor that we “hand the torch” and how he uses that to continue to shine light on Baylor and Waco. He focused on his graduated, fifth year seniors who came back even after a disappointing last season, showing that they have character and stand for something and passing that on to the younger players.
Finally, Rhule was asked how close this team realistically is to where he ultimately wants it to be. He says that if the team stays healthy, he’s got a good football team. Last year the injuries forced them to play players who weren’t ready to play. He said there is the potential for too much “youth” and that they may or may not play like grown men. But he says he’ll always bet on the players and thinks they’ll do well. Whether or not that means 6-6 or even better, he’s unsure because he doesn’t think like that. But if the team can be one touchdown better across the board they will be much improved and win more games. He says they are light years ahead of last year’s team at this point in the off season. All in all Rhule seems very positive of where the team is at heading into the season.
And with that, he wrapped up his Big 12 Media Day press conference. Sic ‘em Coach Matt Rhule!