Matt Rhule might have been a little in over his head at the NFL level. Keyword “might.” I shall soon explain why. At all his stops in college football, however, the man has proven on two occasions that he can tear a program down to the studs, and swiftly rebuild it into a consistent winner.
Having accomplished that feat at Temple and Baylor, Rhule is trying to do the same at the powerhouse that once was Nebraska. You might be inclined to think the Cornhuskers aren’t in good hands given how Rhule’s 11-27 tenure with the Carolina Panthers went.
Then again, you hear such well-conceived, articulate comments like this on dumb aspects of NCAA football, and you should feel an instant spark of hope.
Some of the footage I’ve seen of Matt Rhule trying to motivate guys comes across a little flat. Shoot, whatever he did at Temple and Baylor worked wonders. Based solely on this take, I find it well worth reevaluating how I perceive Rhule as a coach.
Here are the best hits from Rhule’s master monologue (or at least what stood out to me), edited for brevity and clarity:
“Sign stealing happens every game… that’s why you should have mics in the helmets, right? All these coaches that vote against it every year, it’s ’cause they don’t want to teach their quarterback. In the NFL, the quarterback goes out there with three play calls… the kids are less prepared.
We can get rid of all thestupid signs on the sidelines… pictures of rock stars and all that stuff and we can just play football the way it was meant to be. You go to a high school game, there’s technology on the sideline. You go to an NFL game, there’s technology on the sideline. You go to college? There’s nothing.”
This whole diatribe sprung up from the NCAA’s investigation into Michigan’s alleged sign stealing. Details continue to leak out about it. Seems like the Wolverines were caught pretty red-handed.
Anyway, Rhule’s take about the cartoonish, stupid, massive signs coaches hold up on the sideline was like the clouds parted and I no longer felt alone.
My biggest pet peeve in college football is when a QB is about to snap the ball, stops, and then the whole team jerks up from their stances, looking to the sidelines at their coaches, desperate for the answers to the test. As opposed to coaches actually teaching them things, better preparing them for the NFL level, and putting a more sophisticated/less-gimmicky offensive product on the field every Saturday.
It actively annoys me. At least with the tone-deaf singer on those atrocious, all-too-frequent Burger King, I’ve gotten a frenzied kick out of smashing the mute button. Made a game of it to see how fast I can do it. Highly recommend. I don’t have that luxury when it comes to the in-unison sideline peek from college offenses. Makes me wanna hurl.
Main takeaway here, though, is that Matt Rhule might be getting a bad rap. He’s so bang-on right about this my head feels like it’s about to spin Exorcist Regan Style.
‘Tis the season. I’m in a holiday humour. That was a Shakespeare reference, extra vowel and all. Salute, Billy Shakes. You’re a better writer than I.
As for the perception of Rhule, might I interest you in a quick tangent? Imagine if he didn’t have the 2019 LSU coattail-riding Joe Brady as his offensive coordinator in Carolina to start off? Or an actual franchise QB instead of a revolving door?
The Panthers had actually built a strong, dynamic young defense under Rhule’s coordinator Phil Snow. They ranked second in total defense in 2021 — with a 30th-ranked offense, no less! That was Snow’s final full season before he, Rhule and other staff were fired off a 1-4 start last year. Snow is now a senior defensive analyst for the Chicago Bears.
That’s neither here nor there. What Rhule is doing today is yeoman’s work toward improving college football even more than it already has amid the delightfully chaotic NIL era. Do not come at me with libelous Rhule rhetoric. He’s helped the Cornhuskers win four of five. The only loss in that stretch? To Michigan, who’s not only way better talent-wise but might’ve allegedly stolen all their signs/plays.