Mac Engel

Baylor’s Matt Rhule isn’t a fraud for looking at NFL

Despite a one-win season in his first year at Baylor, football coach Matt Rhule is drawing interest in Indianapolis for the Colts’ coaching vacancy.
Despite a one-win season in his first year at Baylor, football coach Matt Rhule is drawing interest in Indianapolis for the Colts’ coaching vacancy. AP

Matt Rhule prayed long and hard before he left Temple University for Baylor University, and after one year in Waco he’s decided that’s enough.

Baylor, don’t blame him for looking to go.

Per a report from ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, the Indianapolis Colts interviewed Rhule last week for their head coaching vacancy.

When Baylor officially hired Rhule to replace Jim Grobe, and Art Briles, as the full-time head coach on Dec. 7, 2016, I wrote, “Landing the former Temple football coach is a major get for Baylor, but this feels like a temporary hire.

“Although he spent just one year as an NFL assistant with the New York Giants, he credits Tom Coughlin as having the most influence on his career. Rhule just has the look of an NFL guy who is climbing the ladder in college; Baylor best enjoy this charismatic man while it can.”

Rhule would have been a fool not to take the interview, and a bigger dummy not to take the job should Colts owner Jim Irsay make him an offer.

The first-year Baylor coach isn’t necessarily a fraud as much as he an opportunist, a realist, and another college coach. Rhule took on one of the harder jobs in Power 5 football not named Kansas when he signed a seven-year deal to coach the Bears.

Baylor has a lot to offer recruits, but he is still competing against Texas A&M, Texas, TCU, not to mention Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and whomever Alabama wants in his region.

He’s not coaching Ohio State, Penn State, Oklahoma or Alabama. He potentially could leave Baylor for an NFL head coaching job. That’s Greek for, “BYE.”

NFL jobs call only every so often, and you don’t turn them down. Especially a team that expects to have a healthy Andrew Luck coming back in 2018, and has the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The NFL is where he wants to be. Rhule was the New York Giants offensive line coach in 2012, and he went to Temple the following year.

Coaches who post consecutive 10-win seasons at Temple, such as Rhule did in 2015 and 2016, are hard to miss.

With a depleted and young roster left from the rape scandal that engulfed the school, Rhule and Baylor finished 1-11 in his first season in Waco.

Rhule most certainly told everyone in and around the program that he is there for forever. They all say that, and five minutes later are out the door.

Does that make Rhule a liar? No. It’s the profession. Of course Rhule thinks he’s going to be at Baylor forever, in that moment.

Even if Rhule is not offered the Colts’ job, Baylor now knows firmly where it stands with its head football coach. The Bears are but a stop on his way to the NFL.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

TCU and Baylor players were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after they left the bench during a game on Nov. 24 at Amon G. Carter Stadium.