Nebraska names Matt Rhule as new Huskers football head coach

Nov. 26, 2022, 10 a.m. ·

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln names former NFL coach Matt Rhule to lead the struggling Husker football program. (Art courtesy of the UNL Athletic Department).

Matt Rhule will be the next Nebraska football head coach. Athletic Director Trev Alberts made the announcement Saturday morning, following Nebraska's close win over the Iowa Hawkeyes Friday.

Rhule signed an 8-year contract to take over the struggling Nebraska football program. He will be formally introduced in a news conference Monday at Memorial Stadium.

In a news release Saturday morning, Alberts pointed to Rhule's record at Temple University and Baylor University as "evidence of Rhule's ability to build a program and made him an ideal fit at Nebraska." Rhule was most recently the head coach for the NFL Carolina Panthers team, where he was released after a 1-4 start.

He's credited for improving the football programs at both Baylor and Temple while serving as a head coach. While coaching at Temple from 2013 to 2016, Rhule and the Owls won 28 games. The head coach took the Owls from a 2-win season in 2013 to racking up a 10-4 record in 2015. In his last season with Temple, Rhule led the team to a 10-3 record and an American Athletic Conference championship — the first football conference title in 49 years for the school.

At Baylor, Rhule posted one win in his first season in 2017, then gained a 7-6 record in 2018. He marked an 11-3 record in his final season with the Bears in 2019, including a trip to the Big 12 Championship game.

Rhule made the move to the NFL in 2020, where he coached the Carolina Panthers until October 2022, when he was fired for a lackluster start to the season.

He has roots in the Big Ten as a former linebacker for Penn State. Rhule said he's looking forward to focusing on the college game again.

"It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to lead the Nebraska Football program," he said. "When you think of great, tradition-rich programs in college football, Nebraska is right at the top of the list.  The fan base is second to none, and I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to coach in Memorial Stadium on Tom Osborne Field. My family and I are so grateful to become a part of the Husker Family, and we can't wait to get started."

NU's athletic director called it a privilege to invite the seasoned coach and his family to the Cornhusker state.

"Coach Rhule has created a winning culture throughout his coaching career, and he will provide great leadership for the young men in our football program," Trev Alberts said. "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."

Rhule is taking the helm following the firing of Scott Frost and the promotion of Mickey Joseph as interim coach. Each of those announcements occurred on September 11 – the day after Nebraska lost to Georgia Southern. Joseph is the first Black head coach in the history of Husker Athletics. In the news release Saturday, Alberts made no mention of what would happen to Joseph.

Frost was fired because of his 16-31 record as the coach, Alberts said at the announcement back in September. Starting in 2018, Frost coached four seasons and also three games this year before getting fired. Frost’s buyout provides him $15 million.

Trev Alberts said Joseph would have a chance to win the full-time job but that he also would conduct a national search.

Rhule is taking on a team that has had little to celebrate in recent seasons. Nebraska hasn’t made a bowl game since 2016, which is the longest drought among teams in the nation’s five biggest conferences. Alberts previously said following the announcement of Frost’s firing that expectations may be lower.

“We will stop talking about championships or stop talking about things we used to do,” he said. “We'll just get really process-oriented, detail-oriented and ultimately, when you start doing those fundamental championship habit-type things, as I think about them, those types of wins and things follow.”

The Huskers haven’t won a conference title this century, the last one in 1999. Its last national title was in 1997, when previous coach Scott Frost was the winning quarterback.