Nebraska football: Matt Rhule’s immediate availability could alter Huskers plans

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule on the field after the game (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule on the field after the game (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

There’s little doubt that the Nebraska football team has quite a few candidates for its head coaching job. However, other than Mickey Joseph, there’s a bit of a catch because most of those candidates are coaching elsewhere at the moment, meaning the Huskers will likely have to wait to hire someone until the end of the season. That was true until yesterday. The Carolina Panthers firing Matt Rhule could alter Trev Alberts’ plans.

Rhule, should he decide he wants to coach next year, is available right now. While there has been talk that he would likely get fired this season, the Huskers and any other school that might be interested were still playing the waiting game as far as when. That’s not a roadblock anymore.

For a program like Nebraska, the waiting game is the worst part. Every day that goes by where there’s uncertainty about who the head coach will be, is a day where Cornhuskers’ opponents are telling recruits there’s no reason to wait around.

That can make or break the first year on campus for the new coach, at the very least. Especially with the early signing period that can be just a few days after a coach is hired. Or even before that coach has his foot in the door.

Matt Rhule, having coached in the college ranks before, could conceivably be ready to go by the end of next week.

That doesn’t mean he has to start coaching next week. It seems extremely likely that if the Nebraska football team went that way, they could announce the hiring and make it clear that Mickey would be coaching the team the rest of the season. At the same time, Rhule making it clear that Joseph was sticking around adds stability and allows Mickey to keep recruiting, only this time he’s able to tell those kids who will be the head coach.

All of this is to say that so far, there have been no rumors that the Cornhuskers are planning exactly this. Alberts said his decision would come at the end of the season. There’s been no rumors or whispers of backroom deals being made yet.

If Matt Rhule is Nebraska football’s top candidate, Alberts hasn’t let that slip yet. But if he wasn’t before, the fact that he’s available right away could alter what plans had started to get laid down.