Matt Rhule envisioned getting the head coaching job at Temple once before. He had spent five years as an assistant to Al Golden, rising from defensive line coach to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Rhule had helped the Owls rise from a lifetime spent in college football’s basement to a 17-8 record over the 2009-10 seasons.
So when Golden left for Miami, Rhule interviewed with athletic director Bill Bradshaw for Temple’s head coaching vacancy. He didn’t get it. Bradshaw’s selection, Steve Addazio, offered Rhule a spot on his staff if he was willing to take a demotion.
The way Rhule sees it, getting turned down was the best thing that ever happened to him.
“I want to thank Bill Bradshaw,” said Rhule. “He turned me down two years ago, and he was right. I wasn’t ready then but I’m ready now.”
In the two years since, Rhule spent one season coaching under the Urban Meyer system with Addazio and another as the assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants getting, as he says it, “a PhD in offensive football.”
Now Rhule returns to the place he always wanted to be. Rhule and his family have invested in Temple and adopted Philadelphia as their home, saying “This is our school. This is our home. We’ve built a home here.”
Rhule quoted Temple University founder Russell Conwell, stating, “He who would be great anywhere must first be great in his own Philadelphia.”
Temple just finished its first year in a its second turn in the ever-changing Big East, but Rhule sees the opportunity ahead for the program.
“We have a chance to play on a national stage. We have a chance to play in a championship game and we have access to a BCS bowl. That’s all we want is an opportunity.”
Rhule knows that Temple has a different set of advantages than that of a traditional state school. He brought up Temple’s academic foundation and the chance for Temple players to use the resources of Philadelphia that weren’t afforded to him when he played three hours down the road in State College.
“We want our young men to not only to graduate, we want them to be educated,” Rhule explained. “I went to Penn State, a tremendous school but we didn’t have the opportunity we have here. If you’re a business major, you couldn’t do an internship in Philadelphia. It’s the same for marketing, pre-med, whatever you want to be, Philadelphia has it.”
Rhule said that it was Temple’s players that kept him in Philadelphia when Golden left and Addazio took over, and it was Temple’s players that brought him back. Many of the team’s leaders recommended Rule for the job after Addazio’s departure.
“To hear them know who I am, that I believe in discipline, but that I know how to have fun and be one of them,” he said. “To hear some of the things they said, it’s almost better than getting the job.”