Matt Rhule is our guy, so what are we getting?

We made this post back on 11/13 when we had been told by multiple media members and former players that he was our guy. We got lucky it stayed true, as there became numerous people starting to get anxious and thinking we were out of it with our top candidates. So many fans anymore are like that low self-esteem teenager, tweeting/wondering who would ever come play here, or everyone told us no, or that we were going to just hire some assistant coach with no head coaching experience. I had faith in Trev, and I think he got this one right (not saying Klieman or others wouldn’t have been right as well).

What an unbelievably awful 2022 season for us Husker fans. I’d argue that Nebraska media and message boards have us win the offseason National Championship every year. I’d try to temper some expectations with things and be met with “how could you not think Whipple would be better than what we had” or “you just have to believe the guys coming in can be better than what we’ve had.” With a Week 0 game in Ireland we were greeted with another opening game loss, and we were told on social media and message boards that we may be ok because that Northwestern team very well could win the West. Fast forward and they are now 1-10, and again our faith in our team just seemed to fool us again. Since we had a week zero game, we actually ended up firing our head coach after week 2. Week 2 guys and gals… college football season that I can’t wait to start every year was effectively over for us Husker fans before some teams even played 2 games. I know, we had an interim coach, but we all knew that there was going to be a new coach.

Luckily now we can move forward with talking about our future, leave the past behind us, and start building towards some bowl games so I can get out of this frozen tundra during December or January and go somewhere warm. Let’s talk about what we may be seeing with him here in Lincoln.

More that one article i’ve read has called Rhule more of a program builder and leader of men while he’s not really looked at as a schematic genius like someone similar to Frost at UCF, Herman before taking the Texas job, etc. I think that works perfectly with what Nebraska is trying to get in their next hire. Not trying to shit on previous regime, but if even 10% of the stories are true that are coming out, we need someone that demands respect and accountability, and walks it himself everyday. We need an adult that has been there and done that. Further, if Rhule can be our CEO while trying to navigate one of the most mismanaged rosters i’ve seen in Lincoln for awhile and have Trev dip into the bank account for top notch coordinators and assistants, that’s probably what we need. When Carolina hired Rhule, they talked about how he was a master of figuring out what the roster has, what it needs, and how can we help architect the scheme around it even on a season to season or week to week basis.

Rhule has been all over the map with his coaching tenure, and has finally settled on the offensive side of the ball. He started out defensively where he was linebackers and defensive line coach at Albright, Buffalo, and UCLA. When he moved to Western Carolina, he started adding special teams coordinator to his arsenal, and while there is when he shifted to the offensive side of the ball. He then moved on to Temple where he was recruiting coordinator as well as Quarterbacks coach, and he was offensive coordinator from 2008-2010. He had a brief stint for one year at the New York Giants as OL coach, then back to Temple as head coach where I really became impressed with what he did (more later). He then took over a Baylor head coaching job that was a complete mess and in turmoil. If you followed me from the other message board, when people would reference how bad Frost had it when he came in, I would ALWAYS bring up Rhule and say “no way is it any worse that what Rhule inherited at Baylor that had an astronomical amount of NCAA scandals and was in complete turmoil.” That dude saw a massive scandal down at Baylor, didn’t run from it but ran towards it, and completely flipped their trajectory winning Big12 Coach of they Year and sending them to a Sugar Bowl. From there, on to Carolina.

Let’s start a new paragraph, there’s a lot in the previous one. I love the fact that Rhule has been all over the map, learning so many different positions and finally settled on a role he was comfortable with. Further, I love that he has been a special teams coordinator for multiple years. That lets me know he won’t just forget about that part of the game, which was pretty evident we’ve done the last 5 years in Lincoln as we didn’t even have a coordinator many years. In my opinion, when they added the 10th assistant which took place for the 2018 season there’s zero reason to not have someone on the field with special teams coordinator duties. He isn’t going to let something as important as special teams slide. Look at Iowa, their offense is actually worse than ours this year, but with their emphasis on special teams (yes I know and defense) they are in a position to win the west if they can beat us on Black Friday.

The second thing I love is he really started to gravitate towards OL coach. In my opinion the lines are the biggest improvements that need to be made on our football team. A head coach that can spend time there to help his coach is a nice add-on especially when we will have an OL coach already hired.

So how did Rhule construct his assistant coaches at Baylor where he had success? Let’s take a look at his 10 assistants, in parentheses i’ll put where they went after Rhule left:

Glenn Thomas – co-offensive coordinator/QBs (2020-21 UNLV OC/QB, 2022 Arizona State)

Jeff Nixon – co-offensive coordinator/RBs (Carolina Panthers as RB coach)

Frisman Jackson – WRs coach/Passing game coordinator (2020-21 Carolina Panthers WR, 2022 Pittsburgh WR)

Marcus Satterfield – TEs (2020 Carolina Panthers asst OL, 2021-22 South Carolina OC/QB)

Shawn Bell – Offensive Line (2020 Baylor OL, 2021-22 Baylor QB)

Phil Snow – Defensive Coordinator/Safeties (Carolina Panthers Defensive Coordinator)

Frank Okam – Defensive Line (2020-21 Carolina Panthers asst DL, 2022 Las Vegas Raiders DL)

Joey McGuire – Defensive Ends (2020-21 Baylor OLB/AHC, 2022 Texas Tech head coach)

Mike Siravo – Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator (Carolina Panthers Linebackers Coach)

Evan Cooper – Corners/Recruiting Coordinator (Carolina Panthers Defensive Backs Coach)

So when you take a look at that, it’s pretty standard. The DEs coach turned a bit into OLB coach in 2019, but that would be more than likely what his staff would look like. Forward thinking, Arizona State fired Herm Edwards so he could bring back his Co-OC and QB coach. His RB coach is Jeff Nixon (son was committed and played here before transferring) as he probably won’t be retained by Carolina. I think the TEs and WRs coaches may be tough pulls to bring back. Shawn Bell his OL coach is now a QB coach, would he want to get him back?

Moving to the defensive side of the ball, I think you could get your defensive coordinator back who was with you at Baylor, Phil Snow. DL gets a little tricky, as one of the guys is a full-time NFL DL coach now and the other guy is a head coach at Texas Tech. With that said, Rhule does have ties to the A&M DL coach, something to watch for. I think you probably bring back Siravo who was your Linebackers and special teams coach, and Evan Cooper was just fired this year from Carolina so you could have him back doing corners again.

Who might he keep on our staff?

I think all day everyday you keep Joseph… but remember, Trev is going to want this to be Rhule’s team and the last thing he wants to do is start out meddling in the new coaches assistants. This is the Matt Rhule show. With that said, there is a strategic way Trev can say “Mickey probably needs to stick around for continuity sake, as well as how he is going about recruiting our state and nationally… Trey Palmer is a direct reflection of him.” With that said, i’m going to italicize this, I’M CONFIDENT RHULE WANTS TO RETAIN MICKEY, BUT DOES MJ GET SOME GO5 OFFERS OR WANT TO HEAD BACK SOUTH? I think there’s more to it than just Rhule wanting him, hopefully Mickey enjoyed his experience in Lincoln and wants to work for Rhule and the OC he hires.

After that it gets tricky. My top choice after that would probably be Busch as special teams coorindator/safeties. Busch did a heck of a job with ST at the beginning of this year in my opinion, and I also think we can keep him for continuity sake. He is also knows as an ace recruiter. Lastly, he’s on the opposite side of the ball as Joseph. Keep Joseph and Busch, then let Rhule bring in 80% of his own guys.

I really like Beckton and Fisher as coaches, I just think they may be done with Lincoln and head back south. Pure speculation for me.

Raiola gone obviously. Whipple gone obviously.

My next guy i’d probably want to keep is Applewhite, i’ve been impressed with what little i’ve seen. With that said, I wouldn’t fault Rhule for going another route here.

I’d probably let go of Dawson.

Ruud is an interesting one to me. He has actually recruited a ton of four stars in here, but our ILB room seems so thin. And our top 3 guys are all Nebraska kids. So has he really done that well? Don’t get me wrong, Henrich we had to beat out some really good teams for, and Reimers we had to convince to walk-on for us, but Hausmann was coming here no matter what. I can see Rhule just moving another direction here.

So what did he do schematically?

Again, we are talking about Baylor 2019 since it’s the closest thing we have to what Nebraska could be. Baylor was in 4 WR and 1 RB or 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB 80-90% of the time. Mostly always in shotgun, so i’m sure that will offend some. But with TEs so prevalent in this area, i’m curious if we start getting a bit more 1 TE/1 H-back formations?

I’ll just go over a few things that I loved from what Rhule did when he turned Baylor around. Offensively, there are two things he did that I think should be staples for most every coach. First, he will just do under center QB sneak to get the first down whenever possible. If it’s second and a bit further for a QB sneak, they will just call a direct QB run with the RB as a lead blocker. Here is a great video of North Dakota State doing it:

Second, he tells his OC on third and short or medium “if you get half of it you’re staying on the field, you have two plays.” So many times OCs don’t know what the fourth down option will be (punt or go for it) so they try to get the entire thing right away. Being on the same page as his OC was critical in their success and turn around.

Sorry for this paragraph “run the ball guy” but Baylor was predominantly in shotgun, and had 3 or 4 WRs on the field 90% of the time. They only instance where more TEs or RBs were on the field is if the Bears were just dominating the line of scrimmage and there was no need to pass.

Another positive I read from Rhule, and maybe this is just me being pissed all we had was passes to Trey Palmer for offense, was that he thinks “good offenses have 8-10 guys touching the ball every game.” A welcome change, and one that you can recruit to. And Rhule will keep the RPO game in his arsenal, as it was a heavy part of his time in Waco. Here you see the QB reading the overhang linebacker and when the WR slips behind them, he pulls and throws:

On defense, Baylor adjusted their scheme to their personnel. In 2019 they shifted to a 3-4 defense in part due to their lack of depth on the DL (sound familiar?). And against Oklahoma that year, they even ran a 3-3-5 where they brought in 5 safeties for a majority of the time subbing out one of the LBs. While I will be curious what Rhule decides he wants to do when he looks at the roster whether that be 4-3, 3-4, 4-2-5, etc., it will no doubt evolve from season to season based on recruiting and development.


This is the part that excites me the most… much of Rhule’s success in college came from player development, and not high profile recruits. In his 7 years as Temple and Baylor head coach, he had only one recruiting class inside the 247 top 30. Further, many of his starters on his 2019 11 win Baylor Bears team were starters for him in 2017 when they only won one game. That means he didn’t even need the portal or four stars to get there, he just developed them.

Development is so huge. It’s never been about the caliber of athlete we have had come to Lincoln to put us in this situation. Mike Schaefer from 247 was on the radio and basically said it was absurd that we can’t get to 6 or 7 wins ever year with the caliber of player we bring in. Think about it. Benhart had an offer from Wisconsin, Corcoran was recruited by everyone, Piper had an Iowa offer, Bando had a Georgia offer. The problem isn’t who we brought in, it’s how we coached them and developed them.

I have made mention that we will never be able to keep up with Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan in recruiting here, so the development is so huge. There was an article that talked about how when Rhule was at Temple his biggest frustration was “how are we going to beat Penn State when they get the first round pick over us every single time”. He was referencing that Penn State is getting 4 stars and Temple was getting 3 stars. So how could he make that up? He developed a plan to go after athletic guys with high ceilings that he knew he could develop in 2 or 3 years. Article here:

Could anything resonate more with us? Up until the last couple years we always had the best recruiting class in the west, if we can get back to that and develop like stated, beating Michigan, Ohio State, USC, or Penn State aren’t out of the realm of possibilities. I mean, Rhule beat Penn State 27-10.

For those of you that keep harping on him not beating ranked teams at Baylor

I’m getting pretty sick of this one… for what it’s worth, if he did the same thing here this year we would be 9-3 and heading to Indianapolis. He figured out a way to beat Penn State at freaking Temple. And his “ranked losses” in 2019 were twice to Oklahoma by one score (once in regular season once in CCG) and the bowl game against Georgia. Those are real one score losses, not ‘Nebraska defend Frost’ one score losses when we were losing to 1-10 Northwestern. In the west if you just beat who you are supposed to, you are in it in November… let’s be in it in November for once.

For when someone says “Baylor was winning a ton and then he made them 1-11” and they forget that Rhule took over a team going through a major NCAA scandal


I don’t know if I need to say much about this, except the fact I don’t think we had much of this until maybe the Iowa game. How many one score losses did we have? At least part of that was mentality. For your viewing pleasure, here is Matt Rhule speaking to other coaches about what they need to do for the players:

What about our recruiting class?

The thing that pisses me off the most about Husker fans is when we are going through a new coach situation and they get all worried that the recruiting class will fall apart. I’m shocked I have to say this, but Nebraska football is bigger than one recruiting class. Having the right coach is worth sacrificing one class. Now a good counter to me would be “when you change coaches as much as us you can’t continue to just throw away recruiting classes.” I think that’s true, but the general point remains, when you get a new coach you just have to know we may lose a couple kids. New coaches coming in at positions may think they have someone better, or want a different skillset.

And not all losses are bad. What if the new OC and QB coach think Flores from Gretna is worth offering so they kick our QB commit to get him on board? We will be ok. And with the transfer portal needed at positions like the OL and DL, if i’m the new coach I may not even fill up to 85 and just assess things in the winter and spring on who needs to be given their walking papers and where we need to hit the transfer portal at. As we discussed in a previous article, we need to flip the lockerroom attitude anyway. And our coach getting a proper assessment of what we need is best.

Lastly, as i’ve told anyone that will listen to me, in-state recruiting is so important for this exact reason. All but one of our in-state recruits are guaranteed to stay with us no matter who the coach is. They are loyal, and going to give their all to the in-state school. While rankings may not be as high as trying to grab all the 4 stars from Florida, Texas, or Georgia, they are loyal and going to play their ass off for us. That will keep a majority of the class in place, and if you keep Mickey I think you only lose a couple guys.


In the span of 7 years, Rhule turned 2 sub .200 programs into double-digit win teams and conference championship contenders. For me that’s huge. He didn’t hit lightning in a bottle one season or at one program. He had a Temple team that wasn’t getting anywhere close to top 50 recruiting classes, and he took over a Baylor team that was losing players left and right with the NCAA sanctions that came down.

This is a home run, slam dunk, whatever you want to call it. While nothing is ever a sure thing, there’s a lot to like here. I couldn’t be more excited about our football program in 2023. And remember, if we would have beat Northwestern and Georgia Southern, we would have been sitting at 5 wins this year. Could discipline and direction like Rhule has been known to provide help us close the door on Wisconsin with a double digit lead at home? Could it have had us keep our double digit halftime lead vs Minnesota at home? That would have got us to a bowl game. While i’m not saying that’s my expectation, I think it’s very possible for us.

ShortSideOption Blog (welcome matt rhule)

To keep from making this subscription based, any donation helps offset my site fees


23 thoughts on “Matt Rhule is our guy, so what are we getting?

  1. So you think he will keep to his Baylor offense and not his Temple offense? At Temple he run a lot of single back and ran the ball quite a bit.

      1. Yeah will be interesting to see the offense. A CFB podcast I listened to was saying how he is more of a guy who doesn’t follow one system, but molds it to his players or what needs to work, etc., whether that’s truly the case or not. But based of their musings, he would probably adopt more of a physical style to fit in the B10, but also adapt to the personnel he had.

        I imagine it might look fairly different from year to year, especially for the 1st few years.

      2. Yep, when they had TEs they went more to 2 TE sets. When they had no DL they shifted to a 3 man DL. While I appreciate continuity you also have to do what you are capable of.

  2. Great read man! Reading this post got me even more excited for this hire. When I started doing research on Rhule one thing that stood out to me is the stark difference in where his assistants are now compared to those of Riley and Frost. 90% of the assitants we’ve had on the last two staffs have taken a big step down after Nebraska. Then you look at Rhule and some of the guys that have worked for him. NFL guys, Robinson is arguably one of the top DL coaches in the country, Joey McGuire HC at Texas Tech, Geoff Collins was a HC. Reminds me of some of the cfb greats that just have a huge coaching tree of successful guys. From the sounds of it Scott Frost had more than a couple faults but in my opinion his biggest mistake was surrounding himself with subpar coaches. I mean we plucked Matt Lubick from (checks notes) Canvas Credit Union…. On that note I 100% agree on the assistant holdovers. I think you keep Mickey and Busch has covered a lot of ground in his years and is every bit as good of a recruiter as Mickey is. I agree that Applewhite is a good coach but think I think he goes along with everyone else.

    Probably one concern I have is that CFB has changed a lot in the last couple years. With the transfer portal will you still be able to get stay in the program and develop for three years? I’d like us to get 90% of our offensive lineman from Nebraska or a state that touches Nebraska and they will be more likely to stay around and wait their turn. The skill guys are easier to fill in with the portal as needed.

    Lastly, I am curious to hear a little more on how you thought this search went. I assume that Trev had a list of targets before this season even started and I’m not sure that Rhule was on it being that he wasn’t available until 30 days after our search started. Who were Trev’s top guys for those 30 days? Did we have any trouble gaining traction with his top targets. I have to think Matt Campbell was one but did Trev just shift have to shift gears when he started playing his way out of the job. Or was Rhule just that good of a fit that once he became available Trev went all in on him?

    1. Ya, there’s been a lot of changes since he’s been there. But #1 is he prides himself on development, that really makes me happy with the hire. Hang your hat on that.

      I think Trev had him in top 3 the whole time. Maybe went after one massive fish and they were like “i’m good where I am” and honed in on Rhule. I think he’s been Trev’s guy ever since he got fired from Carolina.

  3. Also, some of the possible assistants are still coaching in the NFL. Obviously these guys can’t just quit mid season but you’ve obviously got to get rolling with recruiting so how does that work?

  4. Great read. I appreciate this hire more knowing how committed to development he is. N will not be out recruiting Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State or USC for quite awhile, so we need to get those athletic guys that can be developed, what’s that old saying hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard? We have talent we just need to develop it. Hopefully N has learned they can win, our last three wins were games we crapped the bed previously. watching yesterday it seemed the announcers, fans and us at home were just waiting for N to blow it. Damn it felt good to win yesterday. SSO great job as always.

  5. Thanks for the write up, they’re always full of great information. I’m trying to remain cautiously optimistic while my limbic system is screaming for out-of-control-excitement.

    1. I be smiling from ear to ear. Excited how this transition unfolds. Be interesting seeing who portals and who doesn’t. Who stays committed and who doesn’t.

  6. Odds he hires a in-state HS coach to button up the state like he did in Texas? How important is mending those fences, and how else might he do it?

    1. I was thinking Dan Jackson but he got put on administrative leave at Vandy so not sure how well that would go over. He needs to hire someone like that in Kenny Wilhites position at minimum. I’m anxiously awaiting how he fills out his staff.

  7. Yeah when I read online comments like “have fun losing to every top 25 team”, I just have to remember the internet is full of trolls and stupid people…

    If you want to say you don’t like him b/c he hasn’t sustained success beyond 3 years or he’ll just leave after a few years, that doesn’t worry me but IMO a more reasonable argument. If you don’t like that he didn’t beat a top 25 team at Temple, then we have different expectations of Temple. At Baylor, if you fault him for his 1st 2 years, we have different opinions on Baylor’s rebuild. In year 3 he lost 3 times to top 7 final ranked teams. I can’t fault that personally. The other games no one was ranked, so he didn’t have an opportunity. Know I’m preaching to the choir here for the most part but wanted to get off my chest. But also, he did beat Texas that year who ended up as #25 in AP poll, just saying.

    Another poster transfer portal possibly changing his timeline for developing since kids leave easier now. I think that’s a valid point, I’m hoping he will instill a culture where most will want to stay, and that he can use his eye for talent to use the transfer portal too to develop/find people to fit his needs to make up for any lack of continuity.

    One thing I’m most excited about is him having good OLine and DLine experience, and seems to place priority on that. I mentioned back a few months ago I loved watching how his defense got after Oklahoma, just fast and aggressive. I think getting back to good line play is a calling card we need again, let alone any program.

    I’m really interested to see if who we have on roster is just far off from what he wants in a lineman, or if he can salvage it. On paper, Corocoran, Benhart, Lutovsky, Piper should’ve been at least a decent line. I’m really interested to see what he does with our current crop.

  8. Thank you for taking the time to break down all that info…makes me feel quite excited about future development, and toughness on the lines…nothing will make me happier than being physical and recruiting speed and more speed. Going to be a fun offseason!

  9. Thanks for the write up and congrats on nailing this one. So what will Rhule do S&C wise? Thats step 1 in improving the trenches.

    Seems he hired one of his long time assistants in the secondary. I really hope he does find a way to keep Busch in some capacity.

    I know you like Ruud and hes a great Husker but he was a disaster here. He got no freshman in 2018 then ran off all 3 2017 kids before the first game. In 2019 he whiffed on Jucos and got 3 freshman, 2 in state with 1 who committed to Riley, and added a kid who busted bc of poor evaluation (and left us to walk on elsewhere). He whiffed on everyone in 2020 so took a late flyer on a kid who never made it here. 0 freshman in 2/3 classes is a recipe for disaster and he should have been fired then. He was also our lead recruiter in CO where we basically disappeared.

    I hope we take some lessons from this. Poor performers need to be removed quickly regardless of their past or name. Young coaches need support from more senior coaches if you want them to manage their own room for the first time. Maybe things go better with more support for a first time coach so I won’t write off his career despite these struggles. Same with Fisher who screwed up his room to a point we were adding 8 DBs last offseason (should have been a huge red flag in retrospect). I have no clue what our new D will ask of these position groups but I will be very curious to see how they approach it knowing that we have virtually nothing at DL. And on this rant, one positive call out is how Mickey, Busch and Applewhite joined this year and you saw them team up to help land kids and lay ground work for the future. Our only DL was recruited by our RB coach who also got us Mathis so if we didnt hire that dude Im not sure we would even have a DL commit. We arent that far off despite the record but we need better management up top (which Rhule should provide) and when a guy is struggling either get him help or move on.

    1. I see he hired Campbell, I’m curious in what role as S/C, I think he’s taking over for Duval. Admittedly I don’t know a ton about him. Couple guys I follow aren’t super thrilled about it but TBD there.

      Yep, I went into the secondary guy he hired was his corners coach, could leave room to keep Busch. But I think Snow was his DC at Baylor and he coached safeties, so may be tough.

      Ruud is just so odd to me. He couldn’t recruit for the 2018 class because he wasn’t a full time assistant yet (didn’t add 10th until that summer I believe) so that’s not on him. But to your point he ran off Avery Roberts who ended up having a nice run at Oregon State. I actually thought he did a nice job recruiting. Got Henrich to commit here, grabbed a four star from Tennessee, then took Snodgrass from York. He also got Reimers to walk-on so that 2019 class he basically had our two starters commit his first full season. I’m not a homer though, Reimers and Henrich can’t stay on the field, our next best guy Hausmann was coming here whether Ruud was coach or you and I were coach. The development doesn’t seem to have been there and quite frankly I think Reimers got too big and lost his athleticism.

      1. So Campbell has never been a head S&C guy which is interesting if he’s the top guy here. I love what I saw in his background. He actually worked with Brohm at Purdue briefly which is interesting. I think seeing that plus the NFL work, we are likely shifting more in the direction you want here.

        What do you know about this OC from South Carolina? Crazy we are poaching SEC coordinators now. I know there’s a lot of chatter about the Georgia DC that sounds crazy but I do actually have 1 inside connection (for the time being) that told me they are pursuing him. That would be a homerun hire. Same source said expect a house cleaning, Busch unlikely to stay which is sad. He did an unreal job this year.

      2. Love him being up at Purdue, they were similar to what Rhea and Ballou did that got them promoted to Alabama.

        I really don’t know a ton about some of these hires. I’m a fish out of water over here.

      3. Gonna go full rumor mill here for you. I was just told Rhule has his DC lined up but can’t say who it is. Former HC somewhere. Not the dude at Georgia…

Leave a Reply