Carolina Panthers: Can Matt Rhule buck the college coach trend?

(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) Matt Rhule
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) Matt Rhule /

New Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule is looking to buck the trend when it comes to college coaches making an impression in the NFL.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Carolina Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule has a lot on his plate in 2020. He is heading into his first season as an NFL coach after a standout college career. And his preparation has not been helped with the current climate preventing face-to-face team activities.

Although that might change in time for training camp. The Carolina Panthers must blend together a host of new faces in a short space of time in their pursuit of being competitive from week one. Rhule might not be under any pressure for immediate success. But he will need to show the front office that they made the right decision to shell out some significant finances to prise the coach away from his role at Baylor.

History is not on Rhule’s side when it comes to college coaches who have achieved success in the NFL. Only a handful have made a notable transition to the pros. And it remains to be seen whether or not the Panthers’ desired choice will add his name to the list.

This was a view shared by NFL writer Adam Rank, who highlighted this predicament in a recent feature on the Panthers’ state of the franchise.

"“It’s hard to remember the last college coach who came to the NFL and made a huge impact. Jimmy Johnson? And sure, you could point to Pete Carroll and Bill O’Brien as college coaches who made the leap successfully. Carroll even won a Super Bowl. But both Carroll and O’Brien had extensive NFL backgrounds. Outside of one season as a Giants assistant in 2012, Rhule’s been a college football coach.“I understand we’ve seen some shaky college coaches enter the NFL and fail. (Bobby Petrino and Greg Schiano immediately come to mind.) But given Rhule’s history at building programs, I’m expecting Carolina to be back in the playoff mix sooner rather than later. In fact, I can’t think of a better fit to come in and completely rebuild the Panthers than Rhule.”"

Can Matt Rhule turn the Carolina Panthers around?

The Carolina Panthers outlined their faith in Matt Rhule by giving the head coach a seven-year deal. This gives him ample time to construct a plan that could end up with the franchise lifting their first Super Bowl in the coming years.

While that does seem like a pipe dream in their current situation. Rhule does have a rich history of turning around struggling college programs. And he can put this experience to good use in an NFL environment.

The Panthers are forming some ultra-ambitious plans to transform the franchise off the field. But it will be equally as important they have a strong contender by the time things such as their new headquarters in Rock Hill or a lavish new stadium come to fruition.

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This will fall squarely on the shoulders of Rhule and other front office staff. And they certainly set their stall out during their first few months working together thanks to a wealth of changes across the board.

In order to take steps forward, sometimes you have to take one back. The Panthers might find that out to their detriment in 2020. But things could get better quickly after that.

Rhule is looking to buck a concerning trend regarding college coaches that move to the NFL. And he stands more of a chance than most at rising to the challenge.

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