Panthers owner David Tepper was willing to change the market for first-time coaches in hiring Matt Rhule, but he thinks he’s getting something for his money.
Specifically, a future Hall of Famer who will change the trajectory of a franchise that’s 10 games under .500 for its first quarter-century.
“I think Matt Rhule can come in here and build an organization for the next 30 or 40 years,” Tepper told the team’s official website. “He can build it.”
Tepper, who was a minority partner of the Steelers before buying the Panthers in two years ago, wasn’t afraid to set the expectations high for his new coach either — comparing the hire to Pittsburgh’s addition of Colts defensive coordinator Chuck Noll in 1969.
“He built a program that has lasted through three coaches,” Tepper said of Noll. “That’s what I hope Matt Rhule can do for us here. He’s a program builder.”
Rhule’s success at Temple and Baylor — places not necessarily conducive to winning — suggest that he has a chance. But he’s entering a system where quick turnarounds aren’t as easy to accomplish. If nothing else, Tepper’s not going to be offended if Rhule continues to wear his smock, the unusual sleeveless hoodie that he wore on the sidelines last season.
“He dresses like [expletive] and sweats all over himself. He dresses like me, so I have to love the guy,” Tepper said. “I was a short-order cook, he was a short-order cook. Nobody gave him anything, nobody gave me anything.
“He had to work hard for everything he got.”
Now, Rhule has been rewarded. And all he has to do is to become one of the best to ever do his particular job.