Full disclosure before we move forward: I had to catch a flight during Matt Rhule’s talk at the AFCA convention last week, so I didn’t get to hear the entire thing. But I wasn’t going to pass on a chance to hear Rhule — wearing his Panther black and teal — speak when given the chance, even if it was an abbreviated chance.
In scattershot style, here is the assorted wisdom of Matt Rhule.
On brand: Rhule talked a lot about brand, and so it’s worthwhile to take a moment to define what exactly “brand” means, at least in Rhule’s mind. “Brand is when image meets identity and they’re in lock step,” he said.
With that brand stated, Rhule then broke down what he defined as toughness and competitiveness.
“Toughness is the physical and mental strength to accomplish your goals no matter the circumstances,” he said.
On competitiveness, Rhule defined it as, “I’m never going to come in second to myself.” He used an example of Usain Bolt racing not against the sprinters on the other blocks, but against the Usain Bolt of previous races.
Rhule said the most honest thing any #brand manager will ever say: “I don’t know if we are (the toughest, hardest working, most competitive team in the country) but if we say it enough times maybe it’ll be true.”
On process: Rhule defined process as a complete focus on his own team, as the slide shows below. “Every year after signing day I go on a diet,” he said. “It’s not that I don’t have great goals, I don’t have great process.”
Speaking of controlling the controllables: Rhule said he can tolerate any penalty except for three. Those three are false starts, any alignment penalty and offsides.
On his goals in Carolina: Rhule said his goal is to run the best organization in the NFL. “I want to be the gold standard,” he said. To get there, Rhule wants to have the best team chemistry in the NFL among players and coaches. “If the coaching staff is united as a team, the players will follow.”
On applying for jobs as a young coach: As an undergrad at Penn State Rhule applied to every Division I school and every NFL team hoping to get a job. Instead he got 200 rejection letters. “There was a bar at Penn State that gave you a free beer if you brought in a job letter rejection,” he said. “I brought in all 200 hoping to get through the weekend.”
One final thought: This was a throwaway tangent in the midst of a discussion of something else, but it drew a big reaction in the room and I wanted to share it with you here. “Guys,” Rhule said, “a bubble isn’t a run. You can tell yourself it is, but it’s not.”