Nebraska Football: Matt Rhule recruiting comments could cause concern

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) /

Yes, I’m aware that Matt Rhule isn’t even officially the Nebraska football head coach. But all indications are that he will be by the start of next week. So it’s time to start looking at what kind of coach he might be for the Huskers.

It’s hard to know exactly how he will run the Nebraska football program until he’s run the Nebraska football program for a while. Though one hint we’re going to get sooner rather than later is how he recruits. And that’s why some comments he made back when he was the Baylor head coach are worth looking at and might cause some concern.

In an article in The Oklahoman back in 2017, Matt Rhule talked about the ease of recruiting when he was with the Baylor Bears. He talked about the opportunity “to live in central Texas where I can recruit all my kids within three or four hours, not getting on a plane and flying wherever. We just said, ‘This is perfect.’”

While it’s true that most people want the next head coach to be someone who locks down the state of Nebraska, he can’t treat Omaha, Lincoln, and the surrounding areas the way he could Texas.

For some Nebraska football fans, his talk about not needing to go anywhere in order to recruit players might sound familiar. Bo Pelini famously talked about how annoying he found having to get a get on a plane and go recruit. His lack of interest in recruiting was a big contributor in his eventual firing.

It’s not just Matt Rhule’s comments about how he preferred to recruit. His classes weren’t particularly good at Baylor. His best, in 2018, was 29th in the country, according to 247Sports. Of course, that was also at Baylor, after the program had bottomed out. It’s worth pointing out Dave Aranda’s classes haven’t been much better and he’s continued having success.

The bottom line is this. If Matt Rhule becomes the head coach of the Nebraska football team, his comments in 2017 don’t mean anything on their own. But his recruiting approach is going to be one that should be scrutinized.