Rhule formally takes over as Temple's coach
From Joe Paterno to Tom Coughlin, Matt Rhule has been mentored by some of the winningest coaches in football.
Now, Rhule gets a chance to apply all of it at Temple.
Rhule, 37, who will leave his post as assistant offensive line coach with the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants to take over the Owls, was formally introduced on Monday on campus, after agreeing to a contract over the weekend. He has 15 seasons of coaching experience, and is a former linebacker at Penn State.
He will replace Steve Addazio, who left Temple earlier this month to take the same post at Boston College. Addazio was with the Owls for just two years.
''We had a diverse and talented pool of candidates and an overwhelming amount of interest, but one person distinguished himself from the rest - Matt Rhule,'' Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said. ''Matt is the perfect person to take Temple Football to the next level.''
The Owls are coming off a 4-7 season, in which they went 2-5 in the Big East.
Rhule is the third coach at Temple in the last four years, joining Addazio and Al Golden, who left for Miami. It is Rhule's second stint at Temple, after serving as an assistant for both of those previous coaches.
''One of the emphases in my mind is really watch a kid play and how he develops,'' Rhule said. ''Give kids an opportunity to develop.''
The Owls, searching for a lasting identity in football, would love to see that. A year after winning the New Mexico Bowl - 37-15 over Wyoming in Addazio's debut season - they took a significant step back this year.
''Matt is a good, young coach. He has very good command, and is thorough and detailed in his assignments and with personnel,'' Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. ''He has an outstanding background in the game, and the players like and respect him. He will be a great representative for Temple.''
Rhule - who will finish the season with New York, a team that will advance to the NFC postseason with wins in its final two games - applied for the Temple position when Golden left to take the job at Miami, and lost out to Addazio.
The second time, though, was a charm.
''I want to thank Bill Bradshaw for giving me this opportunity, he turned me down two years ago, and he was right two years ago, I wasn't ready then, but I'm ready now,'' Rhule said. ''The great thing about what Coach (Addazio) did, was he kept the infrastructure we built under Al (Golden) with the coaches that had been here. Steve didn't wipe it all out.
''Then I worked for Tom Coughlin, and I don't think you do what he did at Boston College, and do what he's done at both Jacksonville and the New York Giants, without having a system. He's unflappable. He doesn't ever show weakness. I watched that for a year. I've been trying to build for this job for a long time.''
And now, the time is here. But this will not be an easy task.
The Owls had an anemic offense this season, finishing 107th overall and with a 322-yard average. They lost five of their last six games, with only a 63-32 win over Army to show for the final month of the season.
''From the minute that he stepped foot here and became our assistant, you could tell he was a guy that was passionate about football,'' Giants tackle David Diehl said. ''He loves the game; he loves being around it. He's a guy who brings that energy each and every day.''
Rhule stressed that his recruiting message will center be on how long he plans to stay at Temple.
''I'm going to tell a recruit, if it's within my power, I'm going to be here as your head football coach when you graduate,'' Rhule said. ''That's what we're looking for.''
Of course, where Rhule's Owls will play long term is a bit of an unknown. Temple returned to the Big East this season after a stay in the Mid-American Conference. With the embattled Big East still in shuffle mode, who knows where the Owls might land in the future.
Either way, though, it appears Rhule will be with them every step of the way.