With Georgia Tech not having an athletic director, it is tough to know what could happen in the head coach search, but that will not stop speculation.
One potential candidate that came free today is former Temple and Baylor head coach Matt Rhule. Why did Rhule come free? Well, he was the head coach of the Carolina Panthers but was fired today after getting blown out by the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Rhule had been the coach of the Panthers since 2020, but could not get the franchise any momentum in the right direction.
Let’s look at Rhule and see if he would be a fit at Georgia Tech and ask if he would even be interested in the job.
Rhule had a long climb to get to be a head coach at the college level. Some of the jobs he held were as a volunteer assistant at Penn State (1998), linebackers coach at Albright College (1998), defensive line coach at the University of Buffalo (1999-2000), and defensive line coach at UCLA (2001).
He found a place of stability for a short time at Western Carolina. He was the special teams and linebackers coach in 2002 before adding the title of assistant head coach from 2003-2004. Rhule added the title of run-game coordinator in 2005.
Rhule left for Temple in 2006 to be the defensive line coach, but he would be switching to the other side of the ball soon. He moved over to be the quarterback’s coach and recruiting coordinator in 2007 and then became the offensive coordinator from 2008-2010. He added the title of tight ends coach in 2011 to go along with being the offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator.
He would leave Temple for one season to be the assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants, but Rhule would finally earn his first head coaching job by going back to Temple in 2013 after Steve Addazio left to become the head coach at Boston College.
His first season at Temple in 2013 did not go well, with the Owls finishing 2-10, but the program started turning around in his second season and finished 6-6 in 2014. His big breakthrough at Temple came in 2015 when he finished 10-4, led Temple to its conference championship game, and also led Temple to its first victory over Penn State since 1941. Another 10-win season would follow in 2016 and the first conference championship for the Owls since 1967.
After finishing 28-23 in four seasons at Temple, Rhule left to become the head coach at Baylor. Baylor was viewed as a tough job because of the recent scandal involving former head coach Art Briles and how depleted the roster was once he took over and it was going to take time for Rhule to build a program and win.
After going 1-11 in his first season in Waco, Rhule started winning games in 2018 by going 7-6, including a bowl win. His biggest season at Baylor and as a college head coach came in 2019 when Baylor finished 11-3, made the Big 12 Championship Game, and made a Sugar Bowl appearance against Georgia. Rhule had Baylor in the playoff hunt for most of the 2019 season and this program was trending upward.
Rhule left to go to the NFL and coach the Carolina Panthers starting in 2020 and obviously, things did not work out, as evidenced by the news of his firing today.
So, would Rhule be a fit at Georgia Tech? I think so. Georgia Tech is a tough job for different reasons and will take time to build back up into winning consistently and Rhule has shown that he can do that at two different programs. Would Rhule want the Georgia Tech job? I doubt it.
Rhule has evidenced that he can take on tough rebuilding jobs in college football and although his teams typically stumble in his first year, he gets them playing well in year two and by year three, he had both Temple and Baylor in conference championship games.
He has shown an ability to identify the kinds of recruits he needs to help build his programs, which is something that is going to need to happen at Georgia Tech. Rhule did not bring in a lot of four or five-star talent at either Baylor or Temple, but he developed players to fit his program and that is a big plus.
There have been plenty of coaches that failed in the NFL and then came back to college to find success. His time with the Panthers should not preclude any college program from going after him. His college record at Temple and Baylor speaks for itself.
The big question would be if Rhule would even be interested in the Georgia Tech job because Georgia Tech should absolutely be interested in him. While Rhule is receiving a hefty buyout from the Panthers, it is going to cost money to convince him to come to Georgia Tech and until proven otherwise, it does not seem like Georgia Tech is willing to do that.
Rhule is also going to be a candidate for other jobs. His name has heavily been linked to the open Nebraska job and could come up in others since his firing is now official. If Georgia Tech wanted Rhule, it is going to have to convince him to come instead of going to other programs.
In the end, I doubt this materializes and that Rhule would want to come to Georgia Tech. However, that should not stop Tech from at least trying to talk to him once they get an Athletic Director.
Stay tuned for the latest updates from the Georgia Tech coaching staff.
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