Matt Rhule Expects to Return to Baylor amid NFL Rumors: 'I Plan on That'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2019

Baylor head coach Matt Rhule talks to reporters during a Sugar Bowl NCAA college news conference in New Orleans, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Baylor plays Georgia on New Year's Day. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Baylor head football coach Matt Rhule is among the hottest candidates to land an NFL head coaching job, but he doesn't anticipate that coming to fruition in 2020.

According to ESPN's Alex Scarborough, when asked Tuesday if he believes he will return to Baylor next season, Rhule said, "I plan on that. I certainly think I will be."

SNY's Ralph Vacchiano reported Monday that Rhule is the "early favorite" to land the New York Giants' head coaching gig since the team's owners "like him a lot" and have been "enamored" with him ever since he served as the Giants assistant offensive line coach in 2012.

New York fired Pat Shurmur as head coach Monday after he went just 9-23 in two seasons at the helm. The Giants have not reached the playoffs since 2016 and have gone just 12-36 over the past three seasons combined.

Meanwhile, Rhule helped Baylor to an 11-2 record this season, and the No. 7 Bears will face the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night.

Per Scarborough, Rhule suggested he is happy at Baylor and wants to build the program into one that is consistently among the best in the nation:

"One thing people don't realize is coaches, we pick up our families. We rip them out of their homes. We rip them out of the places that they are. Sometimes you do that until you get to a point where you find happy. You shouldn't mess with happy.

"There's a lot to accomplish at Baylor. And most importantly, it's just each and every year, I want to put together a championship-caliber team. And I think we have a chance to be even better next year than we are this year. ... More than money, it's about the situation for my family."

Baylor's only two losses this season came against Oklahoma, and had the Bears beaten the Sooners in the Big 12 Championship Game rather than falling 30-23 in overtime, they likely would have faced No. 1 LSU in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

The Bears have come a long way since Rhule took the job. He went 1-11 in 2017 before improving to 7-6 last season and 11-2 this season with a shot at the school's first 12-win season ever.

Rhule did something similar at Temple, as he went just 2-10 in 2013 before going on to win 10 games in both 2015 and 2016.

His penchant for quickly turning around struggling programs likely makes him attractive to the Giants and other NFL teams, but he already reportedly turned down an opportunity to interview for the Browns' head coaching vacancy and seems to think he has plenty of unfinished business to tend to at Baylor.