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Matt Rhule, Nebraska Head Football Coach

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
December 20, 2023 5:45 pm

Matt Rhule, Nebraska Head Football Coach

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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December 20, 2023 5:45 pm

Nebraska Head Coach joins Zach to talk Cornhuskers Football and the commitment of QB Dylan Raiola.

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I'm Kate Abdo, the host of Kicking It, a new weekly show from the CBS Sports Galasso Network, where Clint Dempsey, Charlie Davies, Mo Adoo and I connect with the biggest personalities from global soccer and beyond to learn about their journeys and what makes them tick. This is the place for football fans to hear unfiltered conversations with the game's most familiar faces. So what are you waiting for?

Follow and listen to Kicking It on the Odyssey app or wherever you get your podcasts. As we continue, this is Zach Gelb's show Coast to Coast on CBS Sports Radio. It's early national signing day and what a day it's been for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. They have a top 20 class and they have the number one quarterback recruit in the country going home to go big red country. And that, of course, is Dylan Riola.

Now joining us is their head football coach, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, in that rule. Coach, first and foremost, congratulations. Appreciate you doing this and how you been? Man, I'm doing great and I appreciate you having me on, brother. Thank you.

Well, thanks so much for coming on. So just when it comes to Dylan, we know that, right, his uncle's on your coaching staff. His father is a Nebraska legend. When you got word that he was going to be joining your program and coming to play his college football with you, how do you kind of put that into words? Man, well, you know, I was fired up.

I really was. You know, Dylan's a really, really special young man. He's a great player on the field and even better person off of it. And as you said, anytime, you know, someone has access to behind the scenes, you know, anytime they can talk to their uncle and see what things are really like and they want to come, to me, that's a great autopsy of your program.

I mean, things are being done right. And so we're thrilled to have him. It's a big day for us. You know, following this the last year, once you got there, there was all this speculation that maybe you would land Dylan and then, right, he makes that commitment to Georgia and it looks like he's going there. And then you guys clearly got him to flip in the last week or two. Just take me through that process, how it looked like he was going to Georgia and now he's coming home to you guys. You know, really, it was all on his end, Zach.

I mean, I think he reached out to me last Sunday. You know, he obviously had decided to go to Georgia. What a great program, perennial champions.

I was living down there at Buford. And, you know, I think, you know, just the relationships in Nebraska for his family, what, you know, what this place has meant to his father. Growing up being a Husker fan, I think I just, it just kind of came full circle for him. And it's, you know, obviously, you know, it means nothing about Georgia.

Georgia's a great program. I just think this was something very personal to he and his family. And when he gave me that call, man, I was surprised, but I was grateful and excited to see what he can do for us. What was the first thing you did once you got that phone call from Dylan saying that he wanted to join you guys? Man, I called our recruiting guys to get the paperwork ready. You know, you know, again, I, you know, when he first called first today, I'm thinking about this and I, you know, really, really encouraged him to, you know, take his time, make sure it was right for him. Came out and visited and you could tell when he was here, you know, he wanted to be here and, and it was going to be the right fit.

And, you know, again, just, just happy to have it sewn up now and excited to get him here and get started. Talking to the head coach of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in that rule, for people that haven't seen him play, what kind of quarterback are you getting from your evaluation? Well, you know, Dylan has amazing arm talent, you know, as good as anyone I've seen, can make all the throws all across the field. You know, a big powerful guy, but athletic in the pocket. You know, you know, you can tell he wears 15, you know, it matters a lot of his game after Patrick Mahomes and while there is only one Patrick Mahomes, you know, Dylan certainly can, you know, has worked on making all the off-platform throws and all things you really have to do in today's game with the, with the pass pressures and the pressure to move in the pocket and find guys that are open. So there's not a lot of, there's not a lot of transition for him in terms of the arm talent.

You know, he'll just have to kind of learn the system and, and grow as a quarterback from the ground up. I've been following the excitement on social media when this was rumored about a week and a half ago, then when it became official the other day, just for you to see that excitement amongst your fan base, which is as passionate as fans there are in college football. And I got to see that firsthand this year when I made a trip out to Lincoln, just what does that excitement mean to you to see it from your loyal fans?

Well, you know, you're right. Our fans are unbelievably loyal and they've been loyal through tough times and, and, you know, we really wanted to give them a winner this year. Yeah, I believe we gave them some really good moments, but, but not really everything that they deserved. And so they added to this off season to get a guy like Dylan, to get eight players from the state of Nebraska, you know, as you said, to get a top 20 class, you know, I hope that it gives them hope that, that we're heading in the right direction and that the days that they deserve are in the near future. Right, Matt, I saw you at Temple build up that program and get more fans in the stands that they've ever seen before. A lot of people wondered why you did go to Baylor when you could have taken an easier job, but you built Baylor back up quickly. For this job at Nebraska, we all know what Nebraska means to so many people, but why did you elect to take it when you did so a little over a year ago?

Cause I always find the jobs that you take to have a little extra meeting to them. Yeah, well, you know, I think when you think about college football, man, you're someone who loves college football like I do, you know, what, what is a more iconic program than the University of Nebraska and to see a program that's fallen on hard times. You know, I just love the thought of doing something right and doing something good for the game. The game needs Nebraska to be successful, the need it to be of interest. And you know, I love the place. I love the relationship I've been able to form with Tom Osborne and Frank Sillich and so many more of the leadership of Trev Alberts, you know, who played here as our AD.

And honestly, Zach, it reminds me a lot of Temple. You know, people here, they love the game. They want to win, but they want to play it a certain way. You know, we played really physical football at Temple. We ran the ball, we played defense.

That's not always popular everywhere, but it's what Nebraskans love. And so we're not there yet, but when we get there, they'll appreciate not just winning the games, but the way that we play. You know, it's also tough to build a program now because if you coach a kid too hard or the kid doesn't like the coaching, he could leave it in the transfer portal. And I think kids should have that freedom and also be able to get paid through NIL and stuff like that. But is it at all, you know, you go into the NFL and then coming back and now having this new era of college football, Matt Rule, has that changed the way at all that you coach on the field or in practice?

No, not at all. I remember there was a player that I coached in the NFL that was a rookie and he was coming out of a program and I was like, man, no one ever coached this player. You know, the greatest thing you could do for a player is set high expectations for them and hold them accountable to them.

Just like the best thing you can do for yourself is set high expectations and hold yourself accountable to them. So, you know, we've never defamed anyone. We've never demeaned anyone. But we do have a high vision for what you can be and we want you to be that. So, you know, we entered this year, finished this year, we were 5-7, no bowl game.

You know, you'd think everyone would hit the portal and really no one did. I think the players here know that we care about them and want them to be great and want them to be great off the field. In fact, Zach, you know, we had five players that were scheduled to graduate and leave and head off to the NFL, you know, three of whom were, you know, all big 10-caliber players and they all have to come back and play another year. So, I just think it's like anything else in life.

It comes down to relationships. If people know you care, then they're going to stick with you and we care a lot about these guys. We want them to say that, you know what, we were some of the best coaches they ever had. So, where do you think you're at in this rebuilding process? You know, you guys almost made a bowl game this past year. You guys played some great defense. You obviously had offensive problems, but when you get ready now for year number two and you have this recruiting cycle come and go and, right, the excitement of early national signing day start to fade away and you guys get to work, what do you think you guys are working towards to try to accomplish in year two?

Yeah, you know, it's a great question. I mean, I think we're right where we should be, you know. We finished five and seven, you know. Again, five of those losses by three points or in overtime. I mean, you know, we believe that we can compete every game we play.

With all that being said, though, those are just words. I mean, we have a lot of work to do. You know, we have to improve the offense. You know, we were a year into this defense and caught a lot of people by surprise.

They'll catch up a little bit. To me, it's just about our players growing this year, getting a little bit better. And again, I expect us to compete in everything that we do next year. I expect us to be a team that people don't want to play, that they know is a tough team to play.

You know, we're going to go back to the mat drills and go back to the offseason and do everything it takes to earn the right to win. You know, when Nebraska has been the last few years from where they were, naturally people are going to say whether they're criticizing you or criticizing the program, that all, they'll never get back. What do you say to people that doubt what you're doing and doubt what you're trying to lead Nebraska back to?

You know, I really don't say anything to them, brother. I mean, it's like, you know, I live that life at Temple. You know, I live that, you know, they 2 and 10 and, oh, he can't do it.

And he should fire the D coordinator. And, you know, two years later, you know, you're coach of the year. You know what I live that life at Baylor where it's, you know, 1 and 11 and why we hire a guy from New Jersey.

And two years later, we're, you know, in the Sugar Bowl. So the best thing you can do in my mind is just believe in what you're doing, believe in the people you're with and just work. And if people are doubting you, they probably have a lot of reasons to.

You know, you haven't done enough yet to show them. So I would much rather just focus my energy on being relentless this offseason about building a winner. And, you know, we came up just short, Zach. And I'll be honest with you, I think if we would have gone to a bowl game, we might have been a little bit satisfied with, hey, we've accomplished something. I can tell you, no one's satisfied right now. And just like that second year at Temple where we went 6 and 6 and got snubbed from a bowl game, we will work and we will play next year with a chip on our shoulder. And when I'm like that, when our team is like that, good things will happen. On the way out with Matt Rule, the head football coach at Nebraska.

I saw this on social media. Did you crash a wedding with your coaching staff the other night? Well, in fairness, we were invited. We were doing an official visit in Lincoln and we had one of our top recruits, Carter Nelson.

We were supposed to see him out in his town of Ainsworth in Nebraska about four hours from Lincoln. So we hopped on the school plane, we flew out. And the day before they said, hey, you know, there's a big wedding in town.

The guy, it's two teachers in the school, big, huge fans. You know, Carter's like, I'm going to the wedding after the basketball game. It'd be great if you guys could go.

They'd love to have you. So we went over, took some pictures with the family, signed a bunch of stuff for all the people in the town. And I really had a great time. And I'll be honest with you, like, that's what Nebraska football is all about. It's just unbelievable people here in the state.

And, you know, we're going to find a way to bring a winner to them. Did they have Runzes at the wedding? Because I'm now addicted to Runzes after my trip to Lincoln.

They might have to be honest with you. I spent a lot of my time taking pictures. So I never made the buffet line, but Cooper Satter, one of those guys might have hit it, but there is nothing better than a Runza. And I hope I think you saw firsthand, man, like just how special this place can be and what it means and how cool a town this is. So I'm anxious about getting to next season. Last thing I want to ask you, Coach Matt Ruhle, I saw that Chip Kelly the other day said that maybe college football should go to a 64 team Power 5 conference pretty much and just condense it all into one with all the never changing landscape that we have right now in the sport with so many schools leaving their current conference and going somewhere else. Do you think that would work? Have you given it much thought if maybe we just consolidate this to one big conference? Yeah, you know, maybe that's the answer.

I don't know. I think the bigger thing that Chip said that I agree with is it's just a collective vision, right? You know, we're in this age now of the transfer poor, we're in this age of NIL, and there's not a lot of standards to it. And so in the NFL, when you have a commissioner, you have a competition committee, rules are being applied the same, and there's a premium on preserving competition and preserving the rosters and preserving the game day. And this year, like never before, you know, rosters are under attack.

The game itself came under attack this year a little bit. Having a commissioner with power or having leadership with power and having a streamlined approach, I think would be a big deal. You know, right now, NIL's different in every state. And so I love to level the playing field just by making things streamlined within either one conference or one vision. And not everyone will be able to do it. Not everyone will be able to step up maybe and afford to play that game. But let's delineate that. So we all, you know, we're all playing by the same rules.

And if we do that, I think the game will do much more. Hey, one more thing for you, Matt, before we let you run, I really appreciate you jumping on board with us today. You know, I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you this because, you know, my job usually all we talk about are the coaches and the quarterbacks. How about the rest of this class that you got today?

What else jumps out to you? Yeah, man, you know, we put a premium on offensive lineman. We went out and signed a bunch of big, strong guys, local guys, but went all the way out to Hawaii to get Preston.

So brought a bunch of DVDs in a bunch of receivers in and but at the same time went out and found some big guys on the offensive line and some pass rushers to allow us to win in the Big 10. Well, Matt, congratulations. Appreciate you doing this. Enjoy the holiday season. Thanks for coming on as always. All right.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-20 19:13:14 / 2023-12-20 19:21:11 / 8

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