INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Chris Ballard promised a “wide-open’’ coaching search, and delivered by including Matt Rhule.
Matt Rhule, who resuscitated the football program at Temple and is attempting to do likewise at Baylor, that’s who.
Ballard met with Rhule earlier this week, according to ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, as part of the Indianapolis Colts general manager’s on-going search to find Chuck Pagano’s successor.
Rhule’s inclusion undoubtedly turned heads across the NFL. Ballard previously met with New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Houston defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, Seattle defensive coordinator Kris Richard and Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy. He’s expected to interview Carolina defensive coordinator Steve Wilks Thursday or Friday.
Ballard, poised to make a franchise-shaping decision, vowed the process would extensive and methodical.
“We’re going to take our time and we’re going to make sure,’’ he said Jan. 1, the day after Pagano was fired. “I think it’s one of the good things that a lot of great teams do in this league is they take their time.
“You want to make sure it’s the right fit.’’
Ballard also made it clear his coaching search very likely could take him into the college ranks.
“All of it’s open,’’ he said. “Yeah, everything is open.’’
A quick primer on Rhule:
- Age: 42 (turns 43 Jan. 31)
- Current position: Baylor University head coach
- Baylor resume: The Bears went 1-11 in Rhule’s first season, but there certainly were extenuating circumstances. He took over a program dealing with a sexual harassment scandal involving multiple football players the previous. Several players subsequently transferred, resulting in Rhule relying on numerous freshmen.
- Coaching resume: Prior to relocating to Waco, Tex., Rhule spent four seasons as Temple’s head coach. He was instrumental in returning the Owls to relevancy. They were 2-10 and 6-6 in his first two seasons, but then posted 10-4 and 10-3 records. Temple won 10 games in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history, reached two bowl games and won the 2016 AAC championship. In ’15, the Owls defeated Penn State, Rhule’s alma mater, for the first time in 73 years.
In 2012, Rhule was the assistant offensive line coach with the New York Giants. The previous six seasons he was an assistant at Temple. He also was as assistant at Western Carolina (2002-5), UCLA (2001), Buffalo (1999-2000) and Albright College (1998).
- Colts connection: Nate Hairston, a 2017 fifth-round draft pick, was one of Rhule’s top players at Temple.