Baylor coach Matt Rhule will interview for the New York Giants head coaching job Tuesday, and if things go well and as anticipated, the search could be over and the vacancy filled shortly thereafter.
There are still hurdles to clear in the potential marriage between the 44-year-old Rhule and the Giants despite his emergence as the favorite to succeed Pat Shurmur.
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It’s believed the mutual interest with Rhule and the Giants is strong, although that remains solely the foundation for a partnership moving forward. The phrase “dream job” has been thrown around with regard to Rhule and the Giants, and it’s not hyperbole.
That doesn’t mean they get together and finalize a deal, but there’s institutional knowledge here from both sides, even if Rhule was only in the building for a year as assistant offensive line coach on Tom Coughlin’s staff in 2012.
Rhule is expected to meet with Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, general manager Dave Gettleman and vice president of football operations Kevin Abrams. Tisch’s presence is notable, considering he has not been in attendance for the previous five interviews, instead engaging with the candidate by phone.
Here are 3 things to know about Rhule and his candidacy:
Rhule is a leader, and he’s a builder. There’s no other way to look at it. His success in lifting Temple and Baylor up from shambles – and in different ways – is undeniable. He sells his vision, but does not come off as a salesman.
His pitch is genuine, and the proof is in the product.
Rhule went 2-10 and then 6-6 at Temple before putting together back-to-back 10-win seasons at Temple. He moved to Baylor and inherited a mess within a program essentially hollowed-out by a scandal that preceded him.
Under Rhule, the Bears went 1-11 in his first year before posting a 7-6 record in Year 2, followed by an 11-win season in which Baylor played in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day – a remarkable turnaround.
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Rhule grew up in New York City before moving to State College, Pa., where he played his college ball as a walk-on linebacker at Penn State. His blend of grit and charisma paved the way through assistant coaching jobs at Albright College, Buffalo, UCLA and Western Carolina before landing at Temple, where he stayed for six years.
And here’s the thing: Rhule spent the early years of his career coaching defense, but he flipped to the offensive side of the ball at Temple. All but one year of his experience has come at the college level, yet there is something to be said for his time not only as a versatile assistant, but a head coach over an extended period in challenging circumstances
The timing is right for Rhule and the Giants to make this happen.
Some within the organization believe there is appeal in having a head coach who will roam the sideline without having his head buried in a play call sheet on game day. That created a negative perception for Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur when things went south. Rhule won’t call plays on either side of the ball, instead putting together a staff that he can oversee from position to position.
The last two coaches hired by the Giants had an obvious specialty in offense, but that has not always meant success in the NFL, not as much anymore as those capable of leading in every meeting room. The coordinators and assistants are the specialized coaches, and the biggest challenge for any candidate in this cycle is putting together a staff. Obviously a head coach needs to be able to coach, but the job is more than that.
Rhule also has appeal for Giants on a global level in terms of the organization, and not just what he brings to the football operations, which is obviously a priority. Rhule has the personality that you can sell to sponsors. He’s a great speaker. Corporate will love him.
He was a finalist for the Jets job last year and should be the hire here if his ideas for a staff and philosophical approach meshes with Dave Gettleman and ownership.
The Giants are going to need to pay a hefty price if they want Rhule, considering his potential buyout at Baylor is no secret. They’ll enter the interview knowing what it will cost, and you don’t get to this point without being willing to pay the price.
Art Stapleton is the Giants beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Giants analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and sign up for our NFC East newsletter.
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @art_stapleton