For the third straight year, Matt Rhule is getting interest for NFL head-coaching vacancies. And for the third straight year, Rhule is entertaining that interest.
Rhule, who interview for openings with the Indianapolis Colts two years ago and the New York Jets last year, is "prominent in Giants coach search, per sources," according to Chris Mortensen, among others. And if the Giants "come knocking, Matt Rhule would jump at the opportunity," said Matt Lombardo.
“He said, if he has an opportunity to talk with an NFL team, it would be kinda dumb not to,” Baylor linebacker Terrel Bernard told the Dallas Morning News after Rhule held a team meeting to address NFL reports. “Just for him, personally. We have a veteran team, I think all the guys understand where he’s coming from.”
If Rhule leaves for the Giants or Panthers (or another NFL job) this year, who might Baylor target as his replacement? It would be the second hire for fourth-year athletics director Mack Rhoades, who plucked Rhule from Temple three years ago. Three years later, Rhoades would have a much more attractive vacancy.
If Rhoades opts for an in-house hire, defensive coordinator Phil Snow, 64, could be a candidate if doesn't follow Rhule to the NFL, as could offensive coordinator Jeff Nixon, 45, though neither have head-coaching experience and Nixon is finishing just his fourth season in the FBS. And for what it's worth, Rhoades was Missouri athletics director when Josh Heupel was the Tigers' offensive coordinator. Heupel spent nearly a decade as a Big 12 assistant and has won 22 games in two seasons at UCF.
Luke Fickell has never coached south of Cincinnati but has done marvelous work in three seasons with the Bearcats and has significant Power Five experience. A third American coach, Tulane's Willie Fritz, could also be in play and knows the state of Texas very well after coaching at several schools in the state, including most recently four years as Sam Houston State head coach in 2010-13. It's also mentioning Sonny Dykes, a Texas native who's coached high school, JUCO and college football in the state.
Bryan Harsin is considered a Boise lifer by some people but has shown interest in other jobs, including Tennessee and Oregon two years ago, in recent years. He was Texas offensive coordinator from 2011-12 and recruited some areas of the state. Also, someone with Texas ties: Todd Graham wasn't scooped up in the coaching carousel. The former Arizona State coach has said he wants another job, preferably in the south or southeast.
Seth Littrell would be a tough sell after the Mean Green's rough season but he's still highly regarded and has significant Power Five experience. Arkansas State's Blake Anderson could be in play, too. And Brent Venables should always be mentioned, even if he's repeatedly turned down interview requests and job offers.