Matt Rhule, formerly a coach at Temple for six seasons and currently an offensive line coach with the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, was introduced as the football’s team new head coach at a press conference at the Fox-Gittis Room of the Liacouras Center Monday.
Rhule, 37, a State College, Pa., native and former Penn State player, becomes the 26th head football coach in Temple history and the third one in three years.
In front of a packed conference room filled with players, parents, students and administrators, Rhule said accepting the head coaching job is a homecoming.
“You don’t love Temple because it’s a great school. There’s a lot of great schools. You love it because it’s your school,” Rhule said. “This is our school. We built a home here. At the end of the day, everyone loves their home.”
Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw, who turned Rhule down in 2010 when he interviewed for the head coaching job, said members of the Temple community, including players, administrators and faculty, lobbied for Rhule’s return as head coach.
“This is what we need now,” Bradshaw said in an interview. “We need someone who’s going to stay at Temple. We need one of us.”
“[Bradshaw] was right [to turn me down in 2010],” Rhule said. “I wasn’t ready to coach then, but I’m ready now.”
Former coach Steve Addazio announced he was leaving the university to become the new head coach at Boston College on Dec. 4. Addazio became the head coach in December 2010 after former coach Al Golden left for Miami.
Bradshaw said through the university’s transition from Big East Conference castoff, to independent, to Mid-Major, back to the Big East, Temple wasn’t necessarily looking for a coach to hire long term. Bradshaw referred to Golden and Addazio as coaches who kept the program afloat and weathered the storm, while leading Temple back into a place of prominence.
Now, with Rhule, who will begin his first stint as head coach on the collegiate level, the university is pledging a lasting commitment.
“Anybody can say anything. For me, I tried to say, ‘This is why I want to be here,'” Rhule said. “I want to be here because I like these kids. I want to be here because my house is here and my family’s here. I’m at the New York Giants. I have stability. If I wanted to chase something else, I’d try to stay there and rise up the ranks. But I didn’t do that. I came here because this is where I wanted to be.”
Rhule coached under Golden from 2006-10 as defensive line coach, quarterbacks coach, co-offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. He helped the Owls to the first string of three consecutive winning seasons in program history from 2009-11, including two bowl appearances and Temple’s first bowl win in 30 years.
“Matt oversaw an offense that lead the [Mid-American Conference] in several statistical categories and produced the likes of NFL stars Evan Rodriquez, Rod Streeter and Bernard Pierce,” Golden said in a press release. “In addition, his professionalism and leadership were an essential part of the Owls’ transformation to the Big East Conference.”
Rhule was one of a handful of coaches that Addazio kept around to be apart of his staff. Rhule served as assistant offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator in 2011.
Rhule’s recruiting classes were ranked No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference in 2006, 2007 and 2012. Addazio called Rhule’s recruiting job in 2012 “the best I’ve ever seen.”
Rhule was at Western Carolina from 2002-05, UCLA in 2001, Buffalo in 1999-00 and Albright in 1998.
Rhule left Temple to become assistant offensive line coach for the Giants in Spring 2012, but he said he never lost touch with the university.
“My family and I are Temple people,” Rhule said. “Every decision we’ve made in our recent lives has resolved around this university.”
Rhule said he received an “offensive football PhD” working with coach Tom Coughlin in New York.
“I was embarrassed at how much I didn’t know,” Rhule said. “It’s been a tremendous year for me to learn from those coaches.”
“Matt is a good, young coach,” Coughlin said in a press release. “He has very good command, and is thorough and detailed in his assignments and with personnel. He has an outstanding background in the game, and the players like and respect him. He will be a great representative for Temple University and leader of that football program.”
Rhule said he wants to run an offense that’s “as multiple as possible,” hinting somewhat at a departure from the run-heavy offense implemented by Addazio.
“We’re going to try to mix up what we do based on the personnel,” Rhule said. “I’d say we’d look like the San Francisco 49ers or Washington Redskins. The Redskins run zone read, but also throw the heck out of the ball and beat you that way.”
“We’re going to do that until we’re good at it,” Rhule said. “I’m going to bring guys in that can teach it and coach it.”
Rhule said he’s going to try to begin interviewing coaches to make up his staff this week. He will remain with the Giants through the end of the season, and will take over as full-time coach in the spring.
Rhule shrugged off the issue of conference re-alignment and maintained that Temple is in a great place in the Big East, and he knows better than most about where Temple is now compared to years ago. Rhule was the only member of Temple’s coaching staff that won the 2011 Gildan New Mexico Bowl who was also on board for Golden’s first year when the team was an independent in 2006.
“Before you can be great anywhere else, you have to be great here,” Rhule said. “And that’s what we’re going to do.”
Joey Cranney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @joey_cranney.