When Did Matt Rhule Take Over At Nebraska? A Comprehensive Look At Rhule’s Coaching Career

Matt Rhule is back in college football, with the Nebraska Cornhuskers the latest stop on a coaching journey that showcases his transformative ability.

After a disappointing stint in the NFL, Matt Rhule returned to college football to great acclaim ahead of the 2023 season as the head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Tasked with transforming a program that has fallen away from national relevancy in recent years, Rhule’s wealth of experience and track record of team transformation make him the right man for the job.

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Matt Rhule Coaching Profile

  • Nebraska (head coach, 2023)
  • Carolina Panthers (head coach, 2020-2022)
  • Baylor (head coach, 2017-2019)
  • Temple (head coach, 2013-2016)
  • New York Giants (assistant OL coach, 2012)
  • Temple (offensive coordinator, TE coach, recruiting coordinator, 2011; offensive coordinator, QB coach, 2008-2010; QB coach, recruiting coordinator, 2007; DL coach, 2006)
  • Western Carolina (assistant head coach, run game coordinator, ST coach, 2005; AHC, LB coach, ST coach, 2003-2004; ST coach, LB coach, 2002)
  • UCLA (assistant DL coach, 2001)
  • Buffalo (DL coach, 2000; assistant DL coach, 1999)
  • Albright (PA) College (LB coach)

Rhule’s Early Coaching Career

As Rhule returns to college football to spearhead Nebraska’s attempt to regain relevancy both nationally and within the Big Ten, it’s somewhat poetic that the move brings his football journey full circle. The Cornhuskers head coach spent his playing career at Penn State, helping the Nittany Lions to a 41-8 record from 1994-1997 that included a Big Ten title.

Rhule remained in Big Ten country at the conclusion of his playing career, coaching linebackers at Albright College. From there, he quickly ascended the coaching ranks, spending the next two seasons coaching the linebackers at the University of Buffalo.

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His early career success with the Bulls hastened a move to the Power Five level where he worked with a UCLA defensive line that included All-American end Dave Ball and ranked in the top 25 of college football for total defense during the 2001 season.

After just one year with the Bruins, Rhule accepted a job at FCS Western Carolina. While appearing to be a step down, his time with the Catamounts furnished the now-Nebraska head coach with a wealth of coaching expertise and versatility. He served as the linebacker coach, special teams coach, and run game coordinator while spending three years as the assistant HC.

Rhule’s Time at Temple

Most college football fans associate Rhule’s early career success with the Temple Owls, and as he attempts to revive the fortunes of Nebraska, the blueprint may lay with his time there. However, before he was the head coach of the program, he served multiple roles under Owls’ head coach and now-Notre Dame defensive coordinator Al Golden.

Arriving in Philadelphia in 2006, Rhule spent his first season at Temple working with the defensive line. The following year, he crossed the trenches to work with an offensive skill group for the first time in his career. A flip in fortunes that saw the Owls go from 1-11 to 4-8 helped facilitate a promotion to offensive coordinator, a post that he held for four seasons.

After failing to secure the head coach job following Golden’s departure to Miami (FL) in 2010, Rhule received his first NFL opportunity. The Nebraska head coach spent the 2012 season as an offensive line assistant for the New York Giants, before the chance to take his “dream job” as the Temple head coach presented itself — with the support of the program’s players.

Rhule inherited a Temple team that went 4-7 in 2012 but fared even worse one year later with a 2-10 record in the AAC. Once the new head coach got settled, however, the Owls blossomed, resulting in several school records that included the program’s first-ever 10-win season. Built on the “TempleTUFF” culture, he delivered an AAC title to the Owls in the 2016 season.

Baylor Brings in Rhule

His success at Temple made Rhule a nationally recognized and much sought-after commodity. His transformative capability as a head coach was viewed as the perfect head coach candidate for a Baylor Bears program emerging from a lurid time in their history. As had been the case at Temple, the first year required patience as a rebuilding team went 1-11, their worst record since 1969.

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Rhule led the Bears to six wins the following fall, winning his first bowl game as a head coach and receiving a contract extension through the 2027 season as a result. He repaid that faith by delivering an 11-win regular season that was built on Baylor being a defensive bully, embodying the toughness of their HC. Rhule was also named the Big 12 Coach of the Year that year.

Rhule’s College Football Return to Nebraska

After a three-year dalliance with the NFL, Rhule was officially announced as the Nebraska head coach on Nov. 26, 2022. Despite his difficulties with the Panthers, his reputation as a program builder ensured that he was identified as the perfect candidate to be the 31st head coach in Lincoln. Among fan anticipation, AD Trev Alberts stoked excitement levels.

“Coach Rhule has created a winning culture throughout his coaching career,” Alberts enthused, “and he will provide great leadership for the young men in our football program. Matt is detail-oriented, his teams are disciplined and play a physical brand of football. Matt also has the personality and relationship-building skills to build a great staff and excel in recruiting.”