‘It’s the right fit; it’s the right time’: Coach Matt Rhule greets Husker Nation
Nebraska’s new head football coach didn’t hint at coaching changes, but said a lot of conversations, recruiting will happen this week.
LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Matt Rhule has arrived, and he’s brought his passion for football to Nebraska.
In a speech that sounded a lot like a locker room pep talk, Rhule energized the crowd gathered for the Monday afternoon news conference, which was broadcast and live-streamed all over the state and beyond.
Rhule talked a lot about family during his introductory speech and while taking questions Monday, saying they were all excited to come to Nebraska — and that’s what ultimately brought them here.
The new coach was joined by his daughter in a short video posted to the Nebraska Football Twitter account ahead of the news conference.
“My family and I... We’re so excited to get started. Go Big Red!” he said on the video recorded on the field with his daughter, Leona.
He said at the news conference that he and his wife agreed that Nebraska “is the right fit for our family.”
“Throughout this process, we found what we’ve been looking for. We found leadership. We found alignment,” he said. “... I’ve learned that no matter how fertile the seed is, man, it’s gotta be in great soil for the plant to grow.”
Rhule wouldn’t share specific plans about who he might be bringing along with him, but said he would definitely be talking with — and listening to — players, coaches, and staff before making changes.
Coming off a big win on Black Friday, Huskers are most interested in hearing about whether Interim Head Coach Mickey Joseph, who took the helm after Scott Frost was fired, would be retained.
“I reached out to Mickey right when I got the job. Looking forward to talking to him at some point and talking to the rest of the staff. I’ve been on both sides of it,” Rhule said. “I’ve been an assistant coach on a staff that’s been let go, and I’ve always appreciated the coach coming in and talking to me. So I’ll try to be thorough with that process over the next couple of days.”
Alberts said the decision about whether to keep Joseph was entirely in Rhule’s hands.
“Ultimately, this is going to be Matt Rhule’s decision,” Alberts said. “He’s the head coach and he needs to hire the 10 assistant head coaches he believes gives him the best opportunity.”
Rhule also talked Monday about his affinity for Nebraska.
“My son is this YouTube generation. I have seen the Tunnel Walk maybe 5,000 times. I have seen post-game celebrations. I have seen the hype videos,” he said. “I mean, I feel like — and I don’t know Nebraska well enough — I hope you’ll bear with me, because I want to embrace everything, everything that has to do with the University of Nebraska and the University of Nebraska’s football program.”
He said that when he talked to Alberts, “the passion for football was reborn inside me.” And during his covert visit to UNL, he said he saw that it was a place committed to greatness and player development.
“These are people that love their university, and love their state and love their football team,” he said.
Rhule said he will be sitting down to talk with Joseph this week as plans unfold. He said he’s also very interested in talking with the players because they know all the issues, good and bad.
“It all comes down to fit. People have to want to be here, No. 1; they have to want to be in the role that they’re in. And we have to all move forward,” Rhule said while taking questions at the news conference.
He said he also plans to talk with the rest of the coaches and staff as well.
“There will be a very clear vision, a very clear process, for how we do things,” he said.
This week is also important for recruiting, he said, noting that he will be looking for big fast guys.
“We have to recruit people who want to be Nebraska men,” Rhule said. “We have to recruit people who want to wear the ‘N.’”
Rhule said he wants his program to impact the community, “that when you see a Nebraska football player, you know that place is better for them having been there.”
He said the success of the program is not hanging on one decision; it’s all about the day-after-day development.
He said this wasn’t a financial decision, and that he was recruited elsewhere, emphasizing it was all about fit. He said he’s confident about recruiting players, particularly with the history Nebraska has in player development, both on and off the field.
Rhule said he wants to become a part of the community — and wants to recruit players who want the same thing.
“I don’t know Nebraska well enough yet, and I hope you’ll bear with me, because I want to embrace everything — everything — that has to do with the University of Nebraska and the University of Nebraska football program. I wanted to get to know everything all across the state that
On his way into the 1:30 p.m. news conference, Rhule stopped to talk to fans that had gathered outside Memorial Stadium’s Gate 20 to greet him as he arrived.
The Huskers announced Rhule’s hire on Saturday morning.
Rhule most recently coached the Carolina Panthers. Before that, he led impressive turnarounds as head football coach at both Baylor and Temple.
Rhule was signed to an eight-year contract, according to Nebraska Athletics for $74 million.
Watch Matt Rhule arrive in Nebraska
The Huskers’ new head football coach stepped off a plane in Lincoln on Monday morning, ahead of his formal introduction to Husker Nation in the afternoon.
Watch the full news conference
10/11 Now contributed to this report.
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