Nebraska has officially hired a new head football coach. And it’s a big name.
The school announced Saturday that it has hired Matt Rhule to run its football program. Rhule has agreed to an eight-year contract. Financial details were not immediately available.
Rhule most recently had a tough run as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Rhule was in his third season with the Panthers, but was fired in October after a 1-4 start. Overall, he was 11-27 with Carolina and was owed more than $40 million when he was fired.
But before his time in the NFL, Rhule executed major turnarounds at both Temple and Baylor.
Under Rhule’s watch, Temple went from 2-10 in his first season to winning a combined 20 games over his last two seasons with the program, including a conference title. Rhule then went to Baylor in the fallout of the Art Briles scandal. The Bears went just 1-11 in Rhule’s first season. By Year 3, Baylor won 11 games and played for the Big 12 championship.
A similarly difficult rebuild will be in store for Rhule in Lincoln.
"It is a privilege to welcome Coach Matt Rhule, his wife Julie, and their family to Nebraska," Nebraska athletic director Trev Alberts said. "Coach Rhule has created a winning culture throughout his coaching career, and he will provide great leadership for the young men in our football program. Matt is detail-oriented, his teams are disciplined and play a physical brand of football. Matt also has the personality and relationship-building skills to build a great staff and excel in recruiting."
Added Rhule: "It is a tremendous honor to be chosen to lead the Nebraska Football program. When you think of great, tradition-rich programs in college football Nebraska is right at the top of the list. The fan base is second to none, and I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to coach in Memorial Stadium on Tom Osborne Field. My family and I are so grateful to become a part of the Husker Family, and we can't wait to get started."
Nebraska has had 6 straight losing seasons
Nebraska hasn’t had a winning season since 2016. The Huskers finished the 2022 season at 4-8 with an upset win over Iowa on Friday, giving the Huskers a combined 23-45 record over the last six seasons. The downward slide began under Mike Riley in 2017 and Scott Frost was brought in to turn around the program.
Instead, things got worse. Frost was fired just three games into this season after losing 45-42 to Georgia Southern at home. That loss gave the Huskers a 16-31 overall record with Frost as head coach. On top of that, the loss put the Huskers at an unfathomable 5-22 in one-possession games under Frost.
Frost, a Nebraska native who played quarterback for the Huskers, was hired in late 2017 after an undefeated season at UCF. He inherited a UCF program that went winless in 2015, guided it to a bowl game in 2016 and then a memorable undefeated record in 2017.
Frost promised a quick turnaround at Nebraska, a storied program that has desperately tried to recapture the glory of the Tom Osborne era. That turnaround never came close to materializing under Frost.
The Huskers never reached a bowl game with Frost as head coach. They went 4-8 in his first season, had a high-mark of 5-7 in 2019 before going 3-5 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and a miserable 3-9 record in 2021. Nebraska went 0-8 in one-score games a season ago but Alberts decided to bring Frost back for 2022, albeit with a reduced buyout.
That buyout was set to reduce from $15 million to $7.5 million on Oct. 1, but Alberts decided to make the move after the Huskers lost to Northwestern in Week 0 (thanks to an inexplicable onside kick call from Frost), barely got past North Dakota in Week 1 and lost to Georgia Southern on Sept. 10.
Mickey Joseph served as the interim coach for the remainder of the season and managed to lead the Huskers to wins over Indiana and Rutgers. From there, however, Nebraska lost five consecutive games in the lead-up to Friday’s season finale at Iowa.
Now, it will be Rhule's task to get the Huskers on the path to success in the Big Ten.