WACO, Texas (KXAN) — Baylor coach Matt Rhule is the new head coach of the Carolina Panthers, the franchise announced the hiring Tuesday afternoon.
Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports first reported the agreement Tuesday morning. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Panthers are giving Rhule a seven-year deal for $60 million with the deal’s potential worth rising to $70 million with incentives.
Rhule finished his third season with the Bears and led them to an 11-3 record, No. 7 ranking and an appearance in the Sugar Bowl this season. Georgia beat the Bears 26-14.
In his three seasons at Baylor, Rhule engineered a massive turnaround marred beneath the cloud of former coach Art Briles, who was fired before the 2016 season amidst a sexual assault scandal involving football players.
“I’m not just a fan of the program. I’m a fan of those guys. I think they’re going to be an outstanding team. They’ll get through this now. It’s always uneasy with a coaching change and they will get back to work,” Rhule said Tuesday from outside of his Waco-area home.
Jim Grobe filled in during the 2016 season, coaching the team to a 6-6 record before Rhule’s tenure began.
Under Rhule, Baylor became the only team in a Power 5 conference to go from 11 losses to 11 wins in the span of two seasons.
Prior to Baylor, Rhule coached at Temple for four seasons and led the Owls to a similar turnaround. Temple finished with back-to-back 10-win seasons and won the American Athletic Conference title in 2016.
This isn’t the first time Rhule has shown interest in the NFL despite only one year of experience in the league. He was an assistant with the New York Giants in 2012. Rhule reportedly interviewed for NFL head coaching jobs each of the past two seasons.