Panthers Draw Rhule With Tepper's Willingness To Invest, Start Fresh
Baylor coach Matt Rhule is "finalizing a deal to become the next coach" of the Panthers, according to a source cited by Pete Thamel of YAHOO SPORTS. Rhule had emerged as "one of the most coveted coaches in the NFL" in recent years, and "chose the Panthers over significant interest" from the Giants and other teams (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/7). ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Panthers are giving Rhule a seven-year deal worth $60M with incentives that "could be worth" $70M (TWITTER.com, 1/7). NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said this was a "stealth move, a ninja move" by Panthers Owner David Tepper. One draw for Rhule to take the Panthers job was how Tepper was "willing to put the money in sports-science wise to build a program, everything that Rhule has on the college level." Tepper is "willing to do that, basically start completely fresh" from the Panthers level, and "let Rhule build the program he wants" ("Good Morning Football," NFL Network, 1/7). THE ATHLETIC's Jourdan Rodrigue notes Rhule was "considered by many to be the Giants' top candidate," but Tepper and the Panthers "made their intentions clear first." Rhule has the "reputation of a program-builder after turning Temple into a solid program and overhauling a scandal-ridden Baylor program." For Rhule, "rebuilding that bond between fan and team will be huge." His introductory press conference "will be his first real, unscripted message to the fan base and Carolina community as a whole" (THEATHLETIC.com, 1/7).
TWITTER REAX: Fox Sports' Peter Schrager noted the Rhule hire is a "long term move" for the Panthers." What was "presented to Rhule was an opportunity to create a culture and build." The organization is a "bit of a blank slate." Tepper has "money to spend (obviously), but the business side is in a rebuild, the front office (Marty Hurney remains with Rhule) has room to grow, and the coach can be the main voice." ESPN's Field Yates: "The man can build and lead a football team." SB Nation's Baylor blog ODB: "Carolina fans, you’re getting a good one." Dallas-based KTCK-AM's Corby Davidson: "Rhule was always a short timer at Baylor. That’s a shame. What a turnaround he delivered." Panthers analyst Edgar Salmingo Jr.: "Not shocked that Tepper/#Panthers wanted Rhule, but I'm surprised that they wanted him so bad that they didn't even interview the rest of the candidates in Josh McDaniels and Kevin Stefanski." CBS Sports' Will Brinson: "The Panthers just Josh McDaniels'd Josh McDaniels on the Josh McDaniels interview" (TWITTER.com, 1/7).
JUDGING THE GIANTS: ESPN's Schefter also reported the Giants are "finalizing a deal" to make Patriots special teams/WR coach Joe Judge their new head coach. The deal was "in the works" last night, which is "another reason" Rhule took the Panthers' job. Meanwhile, NFL Net's Rapoport noted Rhule called the Giants before signing with the Panthers and "gave them the opportunity to match," but they "declined" and hired Judge instead. SNY's Ralph Vacchiano noted Judge is an "absolutely stunning hire" for the Giants. Rhule was their "No. 1 choice," regardless of "today's spin." Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman noted this hire is "completely out of left field," though it "doesn't mean it won't work" (TWITTER.com, 1/7).