‘That doesn’t mean he’s going anywhere’

Coach Matt Rhule and the Owls do not feel the coach’s reported meeting with Missouri Sunday is a distraction heading into this weekend’s conference championship game.

According to media reports, coach Matt Rhule met Sunday with the University of Missouri to interview for the vacant head coaching position left by the departure of former coach Gary Pinkel, who resigned after the season due to his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

On Tuesday, OwlScoop.com reported that Rhule is no longer a candidate for the Missouri job.

Temple, No. 20 in the AP Top 25 Poll, faces No. 17 Houston Saturday in the American Athletic Conference’s inaugural conference championship game at John O’Quinn Field at TDECU Stadium.

“I don’t think anything about me would be a distraction,” Rhule said. “I think the distractions for the players would be like, ‘Oh my gosh, we are playing in the championship game’. I got three guys playing in the senior bowl. I got agents calling our players. Those are the distractions.”

Rhule was hired in 2012 and has compiled an 18-18 record during his tenue as the Owls’ coach, including a 10-2 mark this season. The State College, Pennsylvania native is the second coach in program history to win 10 games.

“He made a great comment about you know if someone wants to interview you, you know, you got to sit down and listen and talk to them,” junior running back Jahad Thomas said. “But that doesn’t mean he’s going anywhere. He’s not focused on that and the team’s not focused on that. We’re worried about us just going out there, playing well this week and hopefully trying to be successful.”

In 2012, the Owls went 2-10 overall and 1-7 in the team’s first year in The American. One year later, Rhule and the Owls won six games but were not invited to a bowl game. The team is eligible to appear in its first bowl game this season since 2011, when Steve Addazio led the team to a 37-15 victory against the University of Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl.

If the squad defeats Houston in the conference championship game, Rhule will become the first coach in school history to win 11 games.

“He told us what’s going on, and it’s as simple as that,” senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich said. “The only thing we can do is just come out here, get ready and finish what we started two years ago.”

Michael Guise can be reached at michael.guise@temple.edu or on Twitter @Michael_Guise.

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