When the college football world settled in for bed Monday night, it was Blake Anderson reportedly negotiating with Baylor to become its next head football coach. Late the next morning, it’s Temple, not Arkansas State, that will be searching for its own new coach.
Following up on speculation that had been building through the past couple of hours, Matt Rhule has officially been hired by the scandal-plagued to be its permanent replacement for Art Briles. Rhule will be officially introduced by the university at a Wednesday press conference.
“We could not be more excited to welcome Matt, Julie and their children to the Baylor Family,” a statement from athletic director Mack Rhoades began. “When we set out on our search for a new leader of our football program, we wanted a coach who shared our values, who had demonstrated success, who showed a true commitment to the overall student-athlete and who we believed could lead Baylor to a national championship. We found all of that and more in Matt and I know that he will be a perfect fit with the Baylor Family.”
Rhule just completed his fourth regular season as the head coach at Temple, which ended with the program’s first AAC championship ever and first conference title of any kind in nearly four decades. The Owls’ 10 wins last season was just the second in school history; the 10 wins this season give them back-to-back double-digit wins for the first time ever.
In a coaching career that began in 1998, Rhule has held just one job west of the Mississippi River — at UCLA in 2001. He’s never coached in the state of Texas, so he’ll need to fill his staff with assistants familiar with the area, particularly when it comes to recruiting.
“I am truly honored and humbled to join the Baylor Family,” said Rhule, a former Penn State linebacker, “and I can’t thank President [David] Garland and Mack Rhoades enough for this incredible opportunity. Baylor is a tremendous institution with a history of football success and I know the passion that so many have for the Bears will help bring the community together to reach even greater heights. I am excited to get started.”
It’s unclear if Rhule will coach the Owls in the Dec. 27 Military Bowl, although it’s thought he’ll be leaving his current program immediately.