I want to start this post out by saying Trev has done a phenomenal job keeping this pretty buttoned up. No one really knows which direction this thing is going to go. But I do get more information than most, so I want to walk through how i’ve landed on Rhule still being the guy. After all, i’ve watched media members say he’s the guy then go on major message boards or even to their paper and say he’s off the table, only to put him back on it. But a week ago I told you I thought this is the way it was leaning, yesterday I said I think it’s him, so let me just try to solidify my thought process for you.
First things first… Around 3 weeks ago I had around 3 media members and a couple former players tell me that Rhule was the guy. We all saw the smoke on social media and the message boards, it seemed to be a done deal. But as I stated in my coaching odds article found here:
I think the fact that A&M may have done something with Jimbo which Rhule was familiar with having success at Baylor, and with Franklin being sought after by Auburn that would then open up Rhule’s alma mater, I believe his agent told him to pump the brakes a bit and let things play out. That is when everyone went into hysteria that we didn’t get our guy. They didn’t know it was or wasn’t Rhule, but why hadn’t we heard anything yet?! After all, Rhule had signed per reports (let’s try to forget people were saying Aranda had already signed in early October). It started to become apparent to me I wasn’t even aware of a possible other layer here. See this tweet:
I quoted this tweet and stated that this could actually be good for Nebraska (if you were wanting Rhule), in the sense that it made me even more confident Rhule was our guy. Before I go deeper, I need to expand on something us Nebraska fans are all too familiar with this century. A college coaches buyout.
Everyone knows we are on the hook for a certain amount to Scott Frost and other coaches we have let go. The first level of a buyout is essentially unemployment or severance you owe that coach once you tell them to quit coaching your team. What most people don’t know is that if that coach gets hired elsewhere, the team/ownership that is paying his buyout only owes her/him the difference between the new contract and the buyout. And that is where I think this tweet had a little truth to it, because we all know Trev tries to be extremely frugal in his operations. It was good because Trev was using the Carolina buyout for Rhule to our monetary advantage, but there was a bit of a hangup.
Before moving forward i’ll go backwards to try and illustrate what i’m saying. When Doc Sadler was fired from Nebraska in 2012, we owed him his buyout. Bill Self tried hiring him down in Kansas, and Coach Sadler essentially said “i’ll work for free, I have my Nebraska buyout”. A free coach (even though he wasn’t in a coaching position) for Self that had head coaching experience was a no brainer. What ended up happening is Nebraska said they wouldn’t allow him to work for free, you have to pay him “fair market value” (that wasn’t our rule that is just communicated in nearly all coaches contracts) and we will make up the difference. Essentially Nebraska wasn’t going to allow him to work for free while we paid him 3.4 million in buyout money. And that’s where i’ll circle it back to Rhule…
I think Trev tried gaming the system a bit. Rhule is owed 40 million dollars from the Panthers, close to 10 million per year from them. If we give that guy 4 million a year (number just made up for a scenario) let’s just let the Panthers give him the other 6 million and we can line up top notch assistants with what we are saving. So while I do think the tweet is true about us trying to get a bargain, I don’t think it was without a thought-out plan and we just thought “hey we are Nebraska” and missed out on people.
There’s only one problem, “fair market value”. We just let Frost go when he signed a 5 million contract, there’s guys like Mel Tucker making 10 million a year, and rumors circulated in some groups that the Panthers owner wasn’t going to let us do to him what we wouldn’t let Kansas do to us for Sadler. What is fair market value for a Nebraska coach? They aren’t going to let us just set it, because Trev would just say it was what Frost was making in 2022, 4 million dollars.
So between A&M and Auburn, and then all of a sudden a billionaire NFL owner saying “i’ll sue you if you don’t get him at least X amount”, things went a bit sideways. And that’s why I think things went from “Rhule is the guy” a couple weeks ago, to people scrambling for reasons why we didn’t have him hired yet. In my opinion, it was always Alberts’ preference to hire after the season. It really serves no purpose to do it midseason which is why you haven’t seen Arizona State or Auburn do it yet, it’s not like we are doing something all kinds of crazy here. This tweet replying to me summed it up well:
I could be way off here and we don’t hire Rhule, no one has any idea. I just have a hard time believing all these people told me it was Rhule and then things just completely fell apart. If Trev had his guy I don’t believe he would let that happen. Further, there’s another decently connected person saying that we weren’t told “no” by anyone and our top guy is who we are getting. I think Rhule was at least top 3 for Trev.
If i’m wrong, i’ll gladly take Fickell or Klieman, but I just am going to stick with what i’ve thought for a couple weeks with who will be announced. I’ll give myself a 25% chance of getting it right, but all these things starting to come together helps me think it is him and nothing has changed.
Let’s be honest, no one freaking knows what’s going to happen. And I would suspect even Trev had to think on his feet a bit as the search never goes completely to plan. But if a few people I trust said Rhule, some of these things start to make a bit of sense. I’m not going to change what i’ve been telling people the entirety of November, Rhule it is.
I’m also excited for this to be completely wrong. I do have my “What to expect with Rhule” post already done to drop if he’s our guy. So there is that. When we hire someone else, it will be all for nothing however.
Much love to whoever has posted this to their message boards, we had the biggest traffic ever yesterday, feel free to post the link of this again.