10 notable quotes from Matt Rhule's introduction at Baylor

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday December 07, 2016


Matt Rhule’s opening statement was long and energetic at his Baylor introductory press conference.

“My dad’s a preacher and my mom is Italian.”

Baylor’s environment has been mess this year since the sexual assault scandal, resulting administrative changes and the six straight losses to finish this regular season. But every coach introduction is a chance for excitement, and that’s what Rhule brought on Wednesday. 

Rhule’s hiring at Baylor was a surprise, but he explained why it happened and why he believes he’s a fit. Here were 10 notable quotes from his presser.

- Rhule chose Baylor over interest from Oregon, and he explained why he came to his decision. Faith played a role.

“I had some other opportunities. My wife and I sat in a restaurant in New York City, one phone in one hand, one phone in the other. We said, ‘Where do we go? Where are we being called? Where does God want us to be?’ We looked at each other over shrimp and figured out we were called to come to Baylor.”

- With ground to make up, he made his pitch to Texas high school coaches.

“If you’re a college coach, you want to be around the best. I wanted to come to the great state of Texas where high school football is better than anywhere else in the country. I wanted to come be around the best high school coaches in the country. What people don’t understand is that high school coaches all across the country, no one does more for young people now than high school coaches. They develop them. They love them. They coach them. They invest their time in them. They pick them up when they’re down. They help them when they need help. They’re there for them every step of the way, win, lose or draw.

“I know that because my dad’s a high school coach. I know that because my uncle’s in the Pennsylvania High School Coaches Hall of Fame. I know that because my cousins is a high school coach. I saw, as I grew up, that’s what I want to be. I want to work with kids, and I want to win. No one does that better than the high school coaches in Texas.”

- He doesn’t believe he’ll have issues in the state, and he knows to hire a staff with Texas ties.

“It’s been fantastic with the coaches already reaching out to me. There’s a couple things I’ve learned in the last couple days. No. 1, a lot of kids want to come to Baylor. The brand, there’s kids reaching out to us, kids thinking about coming and are waiting to see. No. 2, one of the reasons I came was Texas high school football coaches love football. I’m not a glad-handling salesman guy. I’m a football guy. Guys I know and trust in the state said, ‘Matt, coaches are going to love you. Just be you.’

“The third thing is we’ll have some guys on the staff with Texas ties. Some guys on my staff at Temple had Texas ties. We’ll make sure we have that tie. But at the end of the day, to me, recruiting is about making the proper evaluations, taking the right kids, and it’s about building tremendous relationships. That’s about who you are as a person, and what the people in Texas have assured me of so far.”

- Rhule’s Temple program was known for defense. Baylor is not. But defense will continue to be an emphasis.

“We’re going to bring the No. 3-ranked defense in the country here and play great defense and have a dynamic offense. Some guys got nervous when I walked in because they saw the Navy game and saw us run it like 72 times. I learned very quickly from Coach Coughlin that you take your great players and let them be great. We’re going to have a tremendous defense and a dynamic offense.”

- He believes that style can work in the Big 12.

“The one thing I know is it’s physical. Any time you have players committed to being physical, you can play great offense and defense. I believe you can play great defense and still be dynamic on offense. I might have to change my end-of-game mentality. I came from Coach Paterno and Coach Coughlin, we’d get up on people and be respectful of the score. Maybe we’ll try to score a few more touchdowns at the end of the games.”

- The scandal didn’t come up directly, but he was asked about the challenges of the job.

“In terms of challenges, I kind of just got my boots on the ground. I have a lot to figure out. I have to figure out the roster. There’s some guys gone, the numbers down. I have to get in the process of recruiting and make sure we are at full strength roster-wise. I’ve have a better answer in a week or so.

- He was also asked how he can bring the community back together. AD Mack Rhoades said in the past he worried battling factions would affect the search.

Said Rhule: “It’s hard because I don’t know and may have to defer to some other people, but what I do know is you do the things you say you’re going to do. You build relationships with people, you invest in the community and the campus and typically, everyone comes together. It would be hard for me to start speculating with me just getting here.”

- Asked about his player discipline philosophy, Rhule didn’t express a hard-and-fast rule.

“I’ve always handled it on a case-by-case basis. I’ve tried to do what I felt was right within certain parameters. There were some non-negotiable things, but at the end of the day, we try to deal with each kid based on the reality of each thing.”

- In developing lower-ranked talent, Rhule pointed to a lesson from Pete Carroll.

“We develop the players because of the way we practice and compete. I’ve had NFL coaches and GM’s say to me, ‘Matt, don’t change the way you practice if you go there, and you’ll be successful.’ We practiced in a way I learned from Pete Carroll. Everything matters. You compete in everything. When you do that, iron sharpens iron, you get better and better, as opposed to some other ways. We’re going to trust our own evaluations and get to know the players we recruit and determine if a guy can develop into one of those pro guys.”

- One year on the New York Giants staff left a big impression on Rhule.

“It was like a Ph.D in how to be a head coach. The thing about Coach Coughlin was he was never emotional with his decision-making. He might be emotional toward the referees or the coaches in the locker room, but he was never emotional about his decision-making. And I loved the way he treated his players. He was unbelievably demanding. If you walked in a minute late, you were going to get fined. If you were a pound overweight, you were going to get fined. But at the end of the day, he had great relationships with the players. When I came back to college football, I said that’s how I’m going to do it.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.