WACO, TEXAS - New Panthers head coach Matt Rhule spoke to the media for the first time after agreeing to terms to become the Panthers next head coach in 2020.
Rhule met the media outside his home and spoke about his life in Waco, Baylor's open coaching position, the transition to the NFL and building his staff.
Below are portions of Rhule's interview. Click here to watch the full interview via NBC Charlotte.
What will you remember from your time at Baylor?
At Baylor, I'll remember the players first and foremost. I'll remember the things that they did. It was fun to have success this year. It was really fun to win the sixth game to go to a bowl last year. It was also fun to have that first year. Just the young people and the players that have been in our lives. This was a time in our lives when we were able to kind of catch our breath. This was a great life here. There were great people in the community. My parents moved here. Julie's dad moved here. I felt like I was called to come here. I feel like I've been released from that call and that time is over for me and we move on to something next. We'll certainly remember this as one of the great times, not just in my life and my professional life, but in our family's lives. I can't thank you enough.
How will Baylor look next year on the field?
They understand now how to get to those places and they understand what it takes once you get there. I expect that they will be an outstanding team next year. I'm sitting here still with my Baylor shirt on. I'm not just going to be a fan of the program but a fan of those guys. I think the recruits coming in and the young players in the program…we redshirted a lot of guys this year which you're supposed to do. We didn't really do that the first couple of years. I think they are going to be an outstanding team, and most importantly they have the leadership and the mindset and process to go win. They'll get through this now. It's always uneasy when there's a coaching change, but they'll find the right coach and they will get back to work. We prided ourselves on being the toughest, hardest-working, most competitive team. I think that they will remain that easily.
How will the Baylor program handle the coaching change?
Coaching changes are hard. But whoever takes over is taking over a great program. I can't remember who told it to me when I took the job here, because there were some troubles. But they said, they don't give away mansions in Beverly Hills. There's some work to do. But I think this is a mansion in Beverly Hills. I think this is a great job at a great place with great leadership.
What will the adjustment be like from college to professional football?
"It's the same thing. It's about getting the right staff, the right players, getting everyone moving in the same direction. Whatever process you put in place, learning that process and just getting better and better and better. When I came here, I had no time frame for anything, I'll have no time frame for anything. For me, everything's about day to day and just grinding, just working. We'll go there, we'll start working tomorrow, and see what we can get done. To me, it's the same thing. Football is football. It's about just getting everyone moving in the same direction and getting the right people on the bus and just bearing with it until you get there."
Can you describe the impact of this opportunity to you and your family?
"We worked in North Carolina before. My son was born in Asheville, North Carolina, so this is a place with which we're familiar. I recruited Charlotte forever, I recruited Rock Hill, Greenville, Spartanburg, all those areas where we'll be, so I know the area. At the end of the day, I'm a competitor, so it's a chance to go coach at the highest level and hope that someday you can hoist a trophy over your head and say that you were the best and your team was the best. Professionally, it's a great opportunity, while at the same time going to a place that we've been, that we've lived, that we know the life that we're getting into and we're excited about. I leave tomorrow, my family, they keep going to school, they're here. We'll still continue to be members of the community until we kind of all get there, but I think we're excited about the opportunity. It's a daunting one, just moving, moving kids, finding new schools and all those kinds of things, but we also are excited about what could possibly be."
Can you completely choose your staff for this job?
"Yep, I'm responsible for the staff and those things. I'm already talking to guys today, so I'll begin to build that staff over the course of the next couple of weeks."
Have you communicated with current Baylor players?
"Yeah, I texted them. I think it depends on when the next head coach is hired. I would love to have a chance to see guys face-to-face, but I also understand that if they hire a new head coach, I want to make sure I'm not stepping on his toes. As I come back and forth to see my family, I'm sure I'll see different guys. In terms of having a formal team meeting, that's the one negative about that timing of this one. The guys were all home, so I tried to just send out a team text and then said, 'Hey, reach out to me,' and guys have. But yeah, I wish I could have a chance to sit there to see them face-to-face. Again, I think they understand. There hasn't been a guy who hasn't understood so far, and I appreciate that about them."