An hour after his firing by the Panthers on Oct. 10, Matt Rhule said he received a call from a search firm. It seems inevitable that Rhule will end up coaching again, probably with a return to the college ranks where he had much success.
Rhule talked publicly for the first time since his departure from Carolina, telling Vic Carucci of the 33rd Team that he misses coaching.
“As I sit here now, I miss that whistle,” Rhule told Carucci. “I miss being at practice. I miss being with the guys. I miss seeing something done wrong and, ‘Hey, let’s stop it and do it again.’ I miss teaching.”
The Panthers were 1-4 when they pulled the plug on the Rhule Era, giving him an 11-27 record in two-plus seasons as the team’s head coach. He had turned around Temple and Baylor, going 10-3 in his final season with the Owls and 11-3 in his final season with the Bears.
“I don’t think you ever really know who you are until you go through adversity,” Rhule said. “Before I joined the Panthers, my coaching career had been: Go to Temple, flip it, win coach of the year; go to Baylor, flip it, win coach of the year. Then I come to Carolina, and I’m not able to have that ultimate success.
“I’m proud of some of the things we did, and I think in time that it would have worked. I think the plan was right. I just wasn’t able to execute it in the time given. It’s hard to talk about improvement when you don’t see the results.”
Rhule leaves wondering what might have been. He expected to do in Carolina what he had always done, but the Panthers couldn’t get the quarterback position right. They started five different quarterbacks in his tenure.
“My time with the Panthers obviously didn’t end the way I wanted it to,” Rhule said. “I went there with high expectations and hopes. When you walk into that building and you come up to the second floor, there are the NFC Championship Game trophies from 2015 and 2004. Then, there’s an empty space for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. I took that very seriously, realizing, ‘Hey, this region, this town, they deserve to win it all.’
“So that thought about doing something historical always weighed very heavy on me, and you’re disappointed when it doesn’t happen. But I also look back very grateful for the opportunity. I mean, not many people have a chance to coach at this level, coaching in a league like this.”