• Why I’m excited about Baylor’s new football coach, Matt Rhule

    Welcome, Coach Matt Rhule!

    Once upon a time, Baylor hired a new head coach — a young man from the midwest who wasn’t even on most fans’ radar — to head a program still reeling following a devastating scandal. That coach would go on to become the winningest coach in program history, leading his team to new heights — including the No. 4 spot in this week’s AP poll.

    As some fans suggested today, Baylor football may have just found its Scott Drew.

    Baylor Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades Tuesday announced Matt Rhule as the Bears’ new head football coach. Rhule, 41, spent the previous four seasons as head coach at Temple University, where he quickly led the Owls from the bottom of their conference to consecutive 10-win seasons and back-to-back division titles in 2015 and 2016. The last two seasons under Rhule marked the first time in Temple’s 118-year program history that the Owls registered consecutive 10-win seasons and consecutive bowl game appearances, and the team’s 2016 American Athletic Conference title marked the school’s first football conference championship in 50 years.

    You can read plenty more about Rhule’s coaching history and professional accomplishments in any number of stories today (like this one from the Waco Tribune-Herald, and this one from the Dallas Morning News). But it was two stories in particular — anecdotes, really — that give me a glimpse of the man we’re getting, and make me excited about what kind of a leader he will be:

    1. First, that he learned to put others first — at home, and in his coaching: “His father was an inner city minister who also coached youth sports. His mom was a social worker,” wrote Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman just last week. “They still travel to Rwanda for three or four weeks every year to do mission work. Rhule relishes having his dad, a former college QB and baseball player at Lock Haven, around his team. ‘I come from two parents that spend their lives giving back to other people,’ Rhule said. ‘They told me to put people first. That’s how we try to run the program.'”

    2. Second, that he raises his son like he coaches his team — with love, time, and discipline: Football coaches put in incredible hours — but this spring, Rhule still found time to coach his 11-year-old son’s baseball team. “I spend all my time coaching 125 other guys,” Rhule told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Why not spend some more time with [my son]? … I did it to try to be a good father, but I’m having way more fun than I ever thought. … Whenever I see youth coaches work with my son, whether it’s swimming or karate or whatever, I’m always amazed at the patience. It’s invigorating the way they slowly teach and teach kids, step-by-step-by-step, and guide them and help them get to a place. There’s a big difference between trying and doing your best, even on a smaller level. What we’ve tried to do with these kids is tell them not to worry about the result. Focus on how you play, how you practice. So they come out and play hard. And if they lose they come right back. They’re resilient. Then they’re off to the next thing. They just want to know what the (postgame) snack is.”

    I look forward to seeing what sort of coaching staff he builds around him, how he recruits, and how the team responds to his leadership. But for now, I’m excited.

    Sic ’em, Coach Rhule!

    (Baylor fans are invited to welcome the Bears’ new coach in person Wednesday afternoon during a public event scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. in the Ferrell Center.)