Temple Football Coach Matt Rhule Leaves for Baylor

Rhule coached the Temple Owls football team to its best two-season stretch in school history.

The Matt Rhule era at Temple is over.

Rhule, who coached the Temple Owls football team to its best two-season stretch in school history, is leaving to take the head coach position at Baylor University. The school confirmed the hire early this afternoon. FOX Sports’s Bruce Feldman first reported the news.

The Owls won their first conference championship in the Football Bowl Subdivision this year, routing Navy on Saturday afternoon to win the American Athletic Conference. The Owls also beat Penn State during the 2015 season, the team’s first win over the Nittany Lions since 1941.

Ed Foley will be the interim head coach when Owls play Wake Forest in the Military Bowl in Annapolis on December 27th.

Photo | Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Photo | Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Rhule, a walk-on at Penn State who played for Joe Paterno, was an assistant at Temple from 2006 to 2011. He spent 2012 with the New York Giants as the assistant offensive line coach, then returned to Temple as head coach. The Owls went 2-10 in his first season, but quickly turned it around: They were 6-6 in 2014, then 10-4 last year and 10-3 this season.

“I am truly honored and humbled to join the Baylor Family,” Rhule said in a release, “and I can’t thank President Garland and Mack Rhoades enough for this incredible opportunity. Baylor is a tremendous institution with a history of football success and I know the passion that so many have for the Bears will help bring the community together to reach even greater heights. I am excited to get started.”

Baylor had much success earlier this decade under coach Art Briles, including its first Big XII title, its first BCS bowl berth and a Heisman Trophy winner (Robert Griffin III). But Briles was fired last May after a report showing he knew about an alleged sexual assault and did not report it. Two Baylor football players were convicted of sexual assault during Briles’s tenure with the team.

This time last year, Rhule signed a contract to stay with Temple until the 2021 season. “I absolutely plan on being here,” Rhule said at the time. “I don’t ever promise anything. The Edmonton Eskimos could call me and maybe that’s the right thing for me and my family, but my family loves Temple and we love Philadelphia. And I’ll just tell you this, I plan on being here and I plan on being here for a long time because I am honored and privileged to coach these kids and they’re great kids.”

He didn’t leave for that Edmonton job, but he did move up in the world of college football. He moves to a new recruiting area (Texas) and a new type of school (a Christian university), and now he gets to try to turn around another program.