Nebraska and former Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule are finalizing a deal to make him coach of the Cornhuskers.
A person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that after several days of discussions, Nebraska made Rhule an offer on Thursday that persuaded the former Temple and Baylor coach to return to college. after more than two years in the NFL.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity as details of a contract – including what the Panthers may still owe Rhule – are still being worked out.
ESPN announced for the first time that Nebraska reached an agreement to make Rhule their coach.
Rhule has been out of work for less than two months since being fired for five games in his third season with the Panthers.
Rhule was 11-27 with Carolina and had about $40 million remaining on the $62 million guaranteed seven-year contract he signed in 2020. The deal made Rhule the sixth-highest-paid coach from the NFL when he signed in 2020, according to Forbes.
One of eight Football Bowl Subdivision programs with at least 900 wins but more than 20 years away from its 1990s heyday, Nebraska is pinning its hopes on Rhule, 47, to recreate its success in its two previous university stops.
The Cornhuskers played in Iowa on Friday and will finish with their sixth consecutive losing season. Sporting director Trev Alberts fired Scott Frost on Sept. 11 after the Huskers opened 1-2 with losses to Northwestern in Ireland and Georgia Southern at home. They were 2-6 under interim coach Mickey Joseph entering the Iowa game.
Nebraska was 16-31 in more than four seasons under Frost, never finishing above fifth in the Big Ten West or going to a bowl.
Rhule becomes Nebraska’s sixth coach since College Football Hall of Famer Tom Osborne retired after the 1997 season. The Huskers have not won a conference championship since 1999 under Frank Solich or played in a bowl since 2016 under Mike Riley.
Rhule is no stranger to the Big Ten. He moved from New York to State College, Pennsylvania as a teenager. He played linebacker at Penn State from 1994 to 1997 and began training there as a volunteer assistant.
Alberts lamented the Huskers players’ lack of development and physicality, especially on the lines. These areas appear to be in Rhule’s wheelhouse. He was a defensive line coach at Temple in 2006 before moving to the offensive side as a quarterbacks coach and coordinator. He left Temple for a year to become the New York Giants’ assistant offensive line coach in 2012.
Rhule returned to Temple as head coach when Steve Adazzio left for Boston College, and the Owls went 2-10, 6-6 before going on to go 10-win back-to-back seasons and claim the 2016 championship. of the American Athletic Conference.
He was named manager of Baylor on December 6, 2016, following an investigation which found the private Baptist University failed to respond adequately to allegations of sexual assault by players, resulting in the dismissal of Baylor. ‘Art Briles.
Rhule’s trajectory was similar at Baylor, where he went from 1-11 in 2017 to 7-6 with a bowl game the following season. In its third and final season, Baylor was ranked in the top 10, made the Big 12 Championship Game, and finished 11-3 after a Sugar Bowl loss to Georgia.
Rhule was the first NFL coach to be fired this year after the Panthers lost four of their first five games.
AP College Football Writer Eric Olson contributed to this report.
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