ESPN’s David Newton, the man who covers the Panthers, reports:
The Panthers plan to interview Baylor coach Matt Rhule, 44, for their head coaching job, per source. Rhule's team is playing Georgia in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day. Owner David Tepper said it would be a tough transition for a college coach, but... https://t.co/COCXYxBNL3— David Newton (@DNewtonespn) December 29, 2019
Rhule will be in demand this cycle. Peter Schrager of NFL Network says he’ll be the most coveted college coach. And that makes sense. Rhule took Baylor from 1-11 to 11-1 in two seasons. He has NFL coaching experience with the Giants, and he’s been a successful head coach at both Temple and Baylor.
My take is that the buyout isn’t an impediment to Rhule leaving. Mack Rhoades said on ESPN 1660 with David Smoak that they wouldn’t force Rhule to remain because of the buyout. Rhoade’s point in that large buyout amount was to signal to Rhule the commitment Baylor has to him as coach. TCU kept Jamie Dixon from taking the UCLA basketball job because they wouldn’t lower the buyout. I think Baylor would let Rhule leave if he wanted to take another gig.
Rhule has been pretty adamant that he would need the perfect situation to leave. He went on Adam Schefter’s podcast and said:
I don’t think I’m dumb enough or naive enough to say that I would never be an NFL coach. I just think for me I have such an unbelievable situation here that it would have to be next to perfect. And even then it would be hard for me to do. … It would have to be one of those idyllic situations where you feel hey, I can not just go here and win. I can win at a high level for a sustained amount of time.
The NFL openings we could have: Panthers, Washington, Cowboys, Jaguars, Giants and Browns.
The Giants are probably the biggest threat. Rhule is from New York and spent a year as an assistant with the Giants. The Giants also have a young quarterback in Daniel Jones. And John Mara is a well-respected owner.
My guess is that Rhule is coaching Baylor next season. There aren’t a ton of NFL jobs this season, and Rhule has a solid team returning next year. But he nearly took the Jets job—every report is that if the Jets had let him pick his coordinators, he would have taken it—and he seems to want to be an NFL coach someday. Maybe he decides—coming off an 11-1 season—that his stock won’t get higher.
We’re going to deal with Rhule to the NFL rumors every season he’s at Baylor. That’s good because it’s a sign he’s an exceptional coach. But there is probably some negativity in recruiting with uncertainty over whether he’ll be the head guy for a recruit’s tenure at Baylor.
Regardless of what happens, Baylor will be fine. The Bears have Joey McGuire on staff, and Rhoades has several other candidates he’d be ready to target. Baylor has made significant investments in football, and they have a great core returning. The program is bigger than any one head coach, but it’d be nice if Baylor could keep Rhule for years.