The time was right for Matt Rhule to be the head coach of the Temple football team.
The time was right for athletic director Bill Bradshaw and his committee to hire him.
Rhule admitted he now knows he wasn’t ready two years ago when he interviewed for the job that eventually went to Steve Addazio after Al Golden left.
But after a year under Addazio and another as the assistant offensive line coach of the New York Giants, the 37-year-old who spent six seasons at Temple – five under Golden - and whose wife is still employed by the school felt ready to take the next step.
“Bill Bradshaw turned me down two years ago and he was right,” said Rhule. “I wasn’t ready then. I’m ready now.
“I went into it this time saying here’s what I’m going to do, here’s my plan, here’s what I learned from Steve, here’s what I learned from (New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin), here’s what I learned about the Urban Meyer way. But for me, it was more here’s what I’m going to do and they bought into it.”
And Bradshaw, who was spurned by Addazio after just two seasons when his coach left for Boston College, wanted stability in the position, especially as the Big East Conference adds and subtracts schools almost daily.
“There were others who were more prepared to come in for that here and now two years ago,” said Bradshaw. “Matt might have had the best interview two years ago, but he was perfect for this here and now.
“If you asked me seven years ago you’ll go through three searches, but here’s where you’re going to be, I’ll take it. Now we’re in a different place (than we were then). We want to keep our coach. We want to be a destination. Steve convinced a lot of people he would be here a very long time, and that’s where the disappointment was for a lot of people.
“(On this search) we looked people in the eye and said these are our terms. That’s what we did. If they told us they couldn’t come in on a certain day because they had another interview, we’d tell them ‘OK, thanks’ (and move on).”
Rhule – who will do double-duty with the Giants until their season ends - said he knew he wanted to come back to Temple when he visited the team before this year’s game at Army.
“I looked at those faces and said that’s my team, those are my guys,” said Rhule. “If (Addazio) ever leaves, I want to be there.”
Rhule said all the right things at his introductory press conference. He was engaging and honest and really everything he was an assistant to the small core of reporters who ventured past the head coach, but now showed his personality on a larger scale.
He talked about how the donation of 57 cents to Temple founder Russell Conwell from the family of a young girl who passed away was the foundation of which the University was built. And how there were a lot of people within the University and program who have put their 57 cents into making Temple what it is today.
He recalled making a stop at 10th and Diamond as an assistant at Western Carolina in 2005 to talk to Golden after he got the job at Temple because he saw the promise in the program. A month later, Golden offered him the position that led him to Monday’s announcement.
There were a large number of players who had been recruited and coached by Rhule who attended the press conference, not to see what their new coach was all about but because they knew what he was all about.
“I’m absolutely stoked about this selection,” said rising senior offensive lineman Sean Boyle. “He’s been around Temple a while, he was part of my recruiting here, he’s a great guy, he’s going to do a phenomenal job. That’s the universal feeling of the team.
“His ultimate goal is to be a head coach and what a perfect place to come to. He comes across as a player’s coach, he has the full commitment of the players. He gets to know them more than just football. He is a mentor to us.”
Quarterback Chris Coyer, who lost his starting job to Juice Granger at the end of last season, admitted a change in coaches gives him a fresh start, but was happier with who the new coach is.
“I couldn’t be more excited for this team, for Coach Rhule,” said Coyer. “He knows this team, knows what we’ve been through. He won’t be easy on us, he’ll kick our butt up and down this offseason, but we knew he was the right guy.
“We wanted a guy who really wanted to be here and not be here two, three years and head out to a better job. I wouldn’t be here without Coach Rhule, I know him pretty well. Either way there’s always a little bit of a fresh start with a new coach, but I know I still have to fight and improve on a lot of things.”
As much as the players were happy to see Rhule walk back in the door, he was happy to see them. Those relationships he built, that commitment to the University is why he was introduced as the new Temple football coach on Monday.
“Me and my wife are Temple people, we didn’t go to school here, but we’re Temple Made,” said Rhule. “Every decision we’ve made in our recent lives has revolved around this University.
“I think they wanted stability. When you come somewhere and stay somewhere and work very hard, it’s because you’re invested. At the end of the day, you love your home and this is where we built our home.
“I’m going to be here. I want to be here.”