Rhule: I Thought I Was The Right Guy To Fix Baylor

Matt Rhule has returned Baylor to national prominence

Tiki and Tierney
November 11, 2019 - 6:33 pm

Matt Rhule is in his third season at Baylor, and the program’s transformation is undeniable. Rhule went 1-11 in 2017, 7-6 in 2018 and, this year, is 9-0.

That is, in a word, impressive.

“My first year as the head coach at Temple, we had a very similar start,” Rhule recalled on Tiki & Tierney. “We finished 2-10, and we were 0-5, 0-6. I’m a rookie head coach – I’m waiting every day to get fired. I’m sitting there afraid to answer the phone.”

Rhule wound up getting a call – from Super Bowl-winning coach Dick Vermeil.

“I barely knew Coach Vermeil,” Rhule said, “and he just said, ‘Don’t change, don’t listen to anybody, don’t pay attention to the outside noise, do what you think is right, trust the people that got you there and just keep doing it until it works.”

At Temple, Rhule went from 2-10 to 6-6 to 10-4 to 10-3. Now he’s doing the same thing at Baylor – only better.

“We didn’t panic,” he said. “We didn’t fire a bunch of coaches. We didn’t change everything. I just kept telling the guys, ‘Be patient. Don’t panic. We’re getting beat up right now, but someday it’ll be flipped.’ So it’s fun for me now to go out with a bunch of seniors and juniors and watch them win close games, watch them be tough after all we went through.”

Baylor became a national power under Art Biles, winning 10+ games four times in five seasons from 2011-15. Unfortunately, his Waco tenure did not end well.

Rhule, in fact, has had to answer for Briles’ transgressions.

“Every time you talk about Baylor, things are going to come up,” Rhule said. “That’s just natural. I learned early on not to let that affect me, not to let that bother me. I think my message to our players has always been this: that stigma, that’s someone else’s story. That’s not your story. That’s not my story. I had nothing to do with that. You had nothing to do with that. Some of the things that happened happened when guys on our team were in junior high. We made a decision early on: when they talk about this and that, they’re talking about someone else. They’re not talking about you. Let’s be positive. Let’s be proud of the things we’re doing.”

Rhule, 44, knew when he took the job that these topics would come up – and keep coming up.

“I’ve had to answer a lot of tough questions,” he said. “I think that’s part of the job. It’s one of the reasons why I took it. I thought I was the right guy to fix it, and I think our players are the right people to fix it. So we understand it. We feel pretty good about where we’re at right now.”

Baylor (9-0), which is atop the Big 12, hosts Oklahoma (8-1) in a critical game this Saturday. Kickoff from Waco is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET.