The Carolina Panthers took a chance on Matt Rhule. A chance that did not pay dividends. Instead, he joins the long list of college football head coaches failing to succeed at the NFL level.
Rhule was fired on Monday after the Panthers lost big at home to the San Francisco 49ers. Rhule was 11-27 in just over two years with the Panthers. He had success at Temple and Baylor from 2013 to 2019 before getting the job at Carolina in 2020.
One win in the first five games ultimately doomed Rhule. Known as an innovative offensive coach, the Panthers’ offense was never better than 24th in points scored and 21st in yards gained. New team owner, David Tepper, never secured a quality quarterback for Rhule to operate with. Rhule got the likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, a broken Cam Newton and Baker Mayfield.
Carolina finished in third place in 2020 with a 5-11 record before placing fourth in 2021 with a 5-12 record.
NFL coaches hired directly from college have not fared well, and that has been proven over the last 12 years or so.
Here are some similar stories.
Let’s start with Urban Meyer who had successful times with Ohio State, Florida and Utah. His time with the Jacksonville Jaguars last year came crashing down before the season even came to an end.
Meyer coached in 13 games before getting his termination papers. His tenure in Jacksonville was plagued by scandal. The married coach decided to stay behind and let the team fly home following a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and was filmed sitting on a barstool with a woman dancing real real close to his lap. He was then faced with the accusations of kicking kicker Josh Lambo in training camp.
Chip Kelly was the head coach at Oregon before his style of football landed him the Philadelphia Eagles job in 2013. He spent two-plus years as the Eagles head coach before he was fired 15 games into the 2015 season. The 49ers gave him a second chance in 2016 but he finished 2-14 in his lone season.
Greg Schiano put Rutgers on the map in 2012 he jumped at the chance of coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was 11-21 in two seasons with the Buccaneers before getting let go. Schiano is now back at Rutgers hoping to repeat his success.
Doug Marrone left Syracuse in 2009 and took over the Buffalo Bills. He was 15-17 with the Bills from 2012 to 2014. He also got a second chance, this time with the Jaguars he was 23-43 from 2016 to 2020. Surprisingly, Jacksonville immediately hired another college coach in Meyer.
Jim Harbaugh is the latest exception to the thought that college coaches struggle with the pro game. Harbaugh was the only one to lead his team to the Super Bowl. The Colin Kaepernick-led team ran into the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII and lost. Harbaugh, who came over from Stanford, spent four seasons with the 49ers and made it to at least the NFC Championship in three of those seasons. He was 44-19-1.
I see Tepper looking for an experienced head coach this time. I also see future candidates asking Mr. Tepper who their quarterback will be. Right now, this is not a very attractive job.