Nebraska Football: Matt Rhule has a checklist his assistants need to complete

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule reacts in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule reacts in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule recently laid out everything that he expects from the people that work for him, and its … a lot.

While most people know what a coach does daily during the regular season and the week before a game, even the most ardent Nebraska football fan probably doesn’t really grasp what is happening behind the scenes. What the coaches must do besides get out on the field and coach.

Nebraska football head coach Matt Rhule recently shed some light on what happens behind the scenes regarding coaches interacting with their players. In doing so, he divulged that he has a checklist of things he expects his staff to complete weekly or quarterly.

Right at the top of the list, according to Rhule is that every coach must have one at least one, one-on-one interaction a week with a player. That doesn’t mean a private coaching session on the practice field. The interaction needs to be a conversation in the coach’s office, or better yet, at dinner or in the player’s apartment.

Forcing the coach to have these interactions can seem odd at first glance, but it’s important to remember that these guys are dealing with hundreds of kids a year. It can be hard to remember to make time to really get to know who they are. Rhule’s rules push his assistants to do that.

Rhule also wants the Nebraska football coaches to bond with their position group on the regular. The bonding is done both through weekly training table meals, planned out in advance and on once-a-semester bonding trips such as going to the movies or putt-putt golf, or any other leisure activity that gets them away from the film room or the practice field.

Nebraska football coaches focus on school life

Being relaxed and comfortable is essential to Rhule and his staff, but he also wants to ensure the players in their charge are getting what they need done off the football field. To that end, he also has his assistant do a weekly academic follow-up. However, this isn’t just a quick check-in.

"“I don’t want you saying ‘hey Johnny how you doing in school?’ ‘coach I’m doing fine.’ No no no. ‘Hey Johnny, I see that you have an English 15 test tomorrow, are you prepared for it?’ Or, ‘hey Steve, I see that you got an 82 on your history exam. How can we get you to a 90.’ Let them know that you know their academics.”"

Rhule also makes it clear he believes that after the COVID pandemic, some of the kids under his charge don’t understand how to lay out their schedules. He wants his Nebraska football coaches to sit down and show them how to plan things out. That includes planning their downtime and when to get to work.

It’s easy to see why Rhule believes this kind of stuff is so important. Right at the top of the list of reasons is that it allows the Nebraska football players and coaches to bond in a way other staff both here and elsewhere, might not ever have the opportunity. The approach obviously also helps the kid stay on track and even improve in a variety of ways in their day-to-day life that have nothing to do with football.

Assuming this approach is rigorously stuck to (and there’s no reason to think it’s not), it’s the kind of goal setting that should lead to lots of success for Nebraska football and the kids and coaches that come through the program.