Matt Rhule has a new job, and now, he’s speaking openly about his previous employer.
Rhule, who is set to coach his first season at the University of Nebraska this year, had an unceremonious end to his tenure with the Carolina Panthers last year after he was fired five games into his third season with the club.
The 47-year-old was brought in for the 2020 season after a lot of fanfare at Baylor after he went 11-3 in 2019.
But Rhule went just 11-27 in Carolina, where he never won more than five games in a season and was axed about halfway through a seven-year, $62 million deal.
Now, as he embarks on the beginning of an eight-year contract with the Cornhuskers, he spoke candidly about his time with the Panthers in an interview with ESPN’s Pete Thamel.
“Going through the fire in Carolina was a purifying fire that melts away all the impurities, all the hubris, all the worrying about stuff that doesn’t matter,” Rhule told ESPN. “I learned very much to worry about what matters. I have a focus and a desire in me.
“I watched what my kids had to go through in Carolina, and we’re not going to let ’em go through that here.”
Despite having running back Christian McCaffrey in the fold during his time with the Panthers, the team struggled under center with the likes of signal callers Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield and P.J. Walker.
And things won’t get any easier in Nebraska as the team went 4-8 last year and hasn’t been over .500 since 2016.
The last time the Cornhuskers reached a double-digit win total was in 2012.
Still, though, Rhule is confident in his bunch.
“We can absolutely be a national power,” Rhule said. “I think we can be relevant in the [new world], as the College Football Playoff goes to 12 teams.”
Nebraska and Rhule can see how they stack up on Aug. 31 in the opener against Minnesota.