Panthers coach Matt Rhule could replace Jim Harbaugh, or to Penn State instead
January 25, 2022
Despite leading the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff, the future of head coach Jim Harbaugh remains the subject of constant speculation. With the NFL coaching carousel continuing to gather momentum, the former San Francisco 49ers head coach leaving Michigan for an NFL team remains a possibility.
If Jim Harbaugh leaves Michigan for an NFL job, the Carolina Panthers' head coach Matt Rhule would be considered the next head coach of the Wolverines.
Rhule's NFL coaching career
The Panthers hired Rhule as their head coach in 2020 despite his lack of experience in the NFL. He was immediately considered one of the highest-paid assistants in the league. But, for the past two seasons, Carolina Panthers failed to deliver the desired performance.
After leading the team to a 5-12 record this season, Rhule found himself in the hot seat of NFL coaching.
Many head coaches have been fired by their team for not performing well. It is not uncommon for head coaches to be fired after a disappointing performance. Mike Zimmer, Brian Flores, Urban Meyer, Matt Nagy, Vic Fangio, Joe Judge, and Jon Gruden have been fired from their respective team after the regular season.
As for Rhule, his total NFL record does not speak volumes of his caliber. He had a career record of 10-23.
Despite the team's disappointing season, Rhule is still considered safe. However, with owner David Tepper's dissatisfaction with his performance, Rhule might need to look for a new job.
CBS Sports analyst Jason La Canfora stated that if Harbaugh leaves the program, Rhule would be the leading candidate to replace him.
While it might seem like an odd choice for an NFL coach to leave for college football, it's likely the best option for Rhule. Panthers' struggles have raised concerns about his ability to lead the team.
Coaching Michigan comes with an abundance of resources and stability at quarterback. As for the Wolverines, they're currently ranked high enough to have a chance to win another championship in 2022. If Michigan offers Rhule a coaching job, it would be wise to accept it.
Rhule's other option: Penn State
Aside from the NFL, Rhule also has experience as a college head coach, having led the Temple and Baylor teams. He was also able to oversee the program's operations during James Franklin's coaching at Penn State.
Sources said that Rhule closely followed the situation at Penn State, especially since Franklin got a big contract extension. With Franklin's contract extended, the chances of Rhule becoming the next head coach at Penn State are slim.
Franklin might have also considered becoming the next head coach at Louisiana State or USC. If Franklin decided to leave Penn State for another job, then the Nittany Lions would have hired Rhule as their next head coach. He would have been a natural fit for the program.