There’s no need to worry just yet, but there’s plenty of justification for concern. Matt “Trust the Process” Rhule, Baylor Football’s relavtively new Head Coach, interviewed for the head coaching position of the Indianapolis Colts. ESPN Staff Writer Adam Rittenberg didn’t offer many details when he broke the story on Wednesday night. But the simple idea of Matt Rhule expressing interest in another job was enough to send Baylor’s faithful fans into a panic. Matt Rhule Colts Interview
SOURCES: Baylor coach Matt Rhule interviewed for the Indianapolis Colts head coaching vacancy earlier this week. Rhule, who completed his first season with the Bears in November, spent the 2012 season as the New York Giants offensive line coach. He is… https://t.co/5w6H7o0aqJ
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) January 10, 2018
Rhule is entering his 2nd year of a 7-year contract as coach of the Baylor Bears. He and his staff are wrapping up another stellar recruiting class after finishing the 2017 season with a 1-11 record. A record like this usually prompts a university to get rid of their coach and find another one. At Baylor, however, there has never been so much excitement surrounding a 1-11 team.
Seasons with 1 to 5 wins (or 7-11 losses) were common and expected before the Art Briles era. Back then, however, expectations for the football program weren’t very high. On the contrary, we suspected our coaches were no good (they weren’t) and that we needed to replace them (we did). Unlike those dismal days, the level of optimism for Baylor Football right now is higher and brighter than the golden dome on Pat Neff.
One and Done?
All this optimism, however, is predicated on the assumption that Rhule and his staff are going to be around for awhile. That’s the expectation and it’s not an unreasonable one. Rhule was offered a 7-year contract for a reason. It was made perfectly clear to him and every other coach who applied for the job that Baylor needed a stable, long-term leader.
When Rhule signed the contract, Baylor AD Mack Rhoades ended the coaching search. Other coaches who might’ve been a good fit for the Baylor job moved on to other jobs. I make this obvious point only to emphasize that Baylor went all-in on Matt Rhule and his plan from the very start. A great deal of trust was placed in him to guide Baylor out of its darkest time.
That trust was extended to Rhule by those who represent Baylor’s past (alumni), present (students / staff) and future (recruits). Therefore, the fact that Rhule would even entertain the idea of leaving the program at this time for another job is exceedingly disappointing.
I had hoped this story was just another case of ESPN trying to generate some clicks by selling rumors as fact. But apparently that’s not the case. This wasn’t simply a courtesy call, as some are saying it was. It was an actual interview for the head coaching position, the details of which are still unclear.
Matt Rhule Colts Interview Raises Questions
— Matt Rhule (@CoachMattRhule) January 11, 2018
At some point, Rhule told the Colts he was staying at Baylor. But that raises several questions. Was Rhule offered a position? Is Matt Rhule already looking beyond Baylor? Are we eventually going to lose him to the NFL? And most important of all, why did Rhule agree to an interview if he’s committed to Baylor?
I understand that people sometimes interview for jobs where they don’t expect to get an offer…or they don’t intend to accept an offer if they get one. It’s one thing for an anonymous Joe like me to do one of these exploratory interviews. But it’s another matter entirely for a high-profile coach to do it. It raises a lot of eyebrows, potentially rattles recruits and raises the legitimate question of how committed he is to his current position.
I get it…most coaches dream of coaching in the NFL. And it’s perfectly understandable if Rhule has those aspirations. But when he signed on at Baylor, he put those aspirations on hold…or at least he should have. Foregoing interviews and job opportunities…no matter how appealing they might be, is precisely what he agreed to do.
Rhule further solidified his commitment to Baylor in his first year by changing the team’s style of play and repeatedly encouraging fans to “trust the process.” Let me tell you why I don’t like this mantra. If you’re a Baylor alum like I am, you’re waiting for a coach to come along who will embrace the school, make it his home, represent it with honor, lead athletes towards integrity and hopefully win more games than he loses.
We’ve been working on this “process” of finding the right coach since Grant Teaff retired in 1992…when Matt Rhule and I were both 17 years old. We Baylor fans patiently wait and support the team through thick and thin. There’s nothing in this process to trust. It’s happening whether we trust it or not. Through losing seasons and even through hideous scandals, we’ll always be associated with Baylor. We cannot now switch our loyalties to some problem-free school that we didn’t attend. We’ll work to restore Baylor’s legacy “as long as stars shall shine,” remember?
From ’08 to ’16, we thought we had the right guy. The man was already a Baylor legend and he could do nothing wrong…until he did. So the process continued and here we are in 2018 with another guy who appears to be fantastic. I just wish his demand for trust were more honest and direct. If he wants us to believe that he’s all-in with Baylor, that he knows what he’s doing and that he’ll restore the reputation of our football program, then he needs to say “Trust Me” rather than “Trust the Process.” Or simply don’t ask for trust at all…just do the things that earn trust.
Love the One You’re With
And he also needs to stop doing interviews for other jobs. Am I a crazy person for saying this? Again, I don’t know how serious Rhule was about the Colts job because no one clarified his intentions for meeting / talking with them. But on the surface, it doesn’t look good. It certainly doesn’t garner trust. He looks like a groom who…just after saying “I do” to his bride…has a secret meeting with his dream girl to see if she might be interested in him.
If Rhule physically sat down with a Colts’ representative or even took a phone call to express interest in that job, it speaks volumes as to where his heart is. Is he always going to keep an eye out for other opportunities? If he has a little success at Baylor, is he going to leverage that success for another job?
All the optimists are framing Rhule’s interview with the Colts as a good thing. “Hey, an NFL team wants our coach!” they say. And if that’s all there was to this story, there would be no need for concern. Reminds me of all the guys who flirt with my beautiful wife…very flattering, but totally harmless. If she were to flirt with them, however…that’s another story. And that’s what Matt Rhule appears to have done in this situation;
“Hey Colts, I see you over there. Yeah I’m committed to this university…for now. It would be hard to leave so soon. But you know, things change. So hang onto my number and let’s chat again in 2019.”
Benefit of the Doubt
I had no reason to doubt Matt Rhule’s authenticity or intentions until this story broke. Whether we trust him or not isn’t something for us to decide. That’s not how trust works. The object of trust, which is Coach Rhule in this case, must prove himself to be trustworthy. And that takes time.
You gotta catch the ball before you run with it, coach. There’s still much work to be done at Baylor and it’s only just begun. Other teams are going to call in the next few years with all kinds of offers. If you wish to be trusted by alumni, fans and recruits, you can’t take those calls. We’re a fanbase that royally misplaced our trust in another coach…only to be devastated and embarrassed. We won’t easily truth another one…especially one who interviews for other jobs.
But anyhow, for as long as Matt Rhule leads our team, represents our school and wears the green and gold, I’m going to support him and our players. Sic Em Bears.