Baylor Bears

Six Scenarios Where Matt Rhule Could End Up Back in the Big 12 Conference

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days

After less than three seasons on the job, the Carolina Panthers moved on from head coach Matt Rhule. Rhule was let go after an 11-27 record, which included a 1-4 start to the season. Despite his NFL struggles, Rhule proved himself in the college ranks, most recently in rebuilding the Baylor Bears into Big 12 Championship contenders. He took them from a one-win program in 2017 to an 11-win program in 2019.

Already, big-name programs are being connected to Matt Rhule, but what about the Big 12? Could he end up back in the conference?

Here are five scenarios where this could happen. I’m not suggesting any of these are highly likely, but they’re worthy of conversation.

 

Baylor Bears

Could a reunion be possible? Sure, why not? No, Baylor isn’t going to move on from Dave Aranda. But what if reports are true that Nebraska is willing to “throw the kitchen sink” at Aranda, is he enticed to make the move to the Huskers? And if he does, wouldn’t Baylor have to call Rhule and wouldn’t Rhule show interest?

He always spoke highly about Baylor, and the Waco community at large, and it seemed genuine. So if those stars were to align and the opportunity were to present itself, it’s an obvious fit.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Neal Brown has the hottest seat in the Big 12 right now. If after four seasons of mediocrity, the Mountaineers decide to move on, Rhule would be a natural fit. He’s originally an East Coast guy, growing up in New York City and then State College, Pennsylvania. He knows the region well not just because he coached in the Big 12 against WVU, but also because he previously coached Temple in Philadelphia. Having a grasp on the Pennsylvania recruiting scene is an important part of the job for a West Virginia head coach given the amount of high school football talent in the state.

Oklahoma Sooners

Crazy? Too soon? Maybe, but maybe not.

Brent Venables is 0-3 in Big 12 play and has become the first Oklahoma coach to ever lose his first three conference games. And the defense is horrendous, giving up over 48 points per game in Big 12 play.

Colin Cowherd suggested on Monday that the Sooners move on from Venables and hire Rhule. Here’s the video.

 

He’s right about how quickly the college football world moves, especially in the transfer portal era. If Oklahoma thinks it’s gotten the hire colossally wrong, and Matt Rhule is out there, would they move on from an “OU guy” that quickly? It’s worth the conversation.

Kansas Jayhawks

Like Baylor, this is once again more about an opening coming to be if their current head coach goes elsewhere. Lance Leipold could have multiple suitors in Nebraska and Wisconsin. He has ties to both states, and if one offers, does he jump? It’s far from a guarantee, but it’s a worthy storyline to watch as we move forward through the coaching carousel.

And then, if this opening were to come, Matt Rhule may be enticed by the fact that the heavy lifting at Kansas is already done. He knows the conference. He likely has some familiarity with the program. And he gets back in the game with a program that is on the upswing.

 

Iowa State Cyclones

Similar to the Leipold or Aranda scenario, what if Matt Campbell finally gets poached by a Big Ten team. After Scott Frost was fired, Campbell was given the best odds to be the Huskers next coach. It seems less likely by the day, especially given Iowa State’s recent struggles, but Nebraska needs a program builder and Campbell has proven as much.

And for Matt Rhule, the same formula as Kansas applies. He gets to take over a program in a conference he knows that has a great foundation to work with a build off of. Is that appealing enough?

Texas Longhorns

What if the wheels fall off in Year 2 for Steve Sarkisian? It’s looking less likely, especially with Quinn Ewers back at quarterback. But anyone telling you they can predict the future of the Texas football program is kidding themselves.

To be clear, I think Sark is in a fine position to continue into 2023 as the Texas football coach. But we’ve seen crazier things happen in the college football coaching carousel, and if the job ends up open, for one reason or another, you better believe Texas would be interested in Rhule, who might be the biggest name and hottest candidate on the open market.

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