The Carolina Panthers were reportedly set to interview Josh McDaniels on Tuesday, but before the New England Patriots offensive coordinator could even get in the building, the team found its next head coach.
That’s according to Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel, who reported Tuesday morning the Panthers are finalizing a deal with Baylor head coach Matt Rhule to fill their own head-coaching vacancy.
CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora has since confirmed the news, indicating that Carolina made every effort to ensure Rhule didn’t make it to a reported later interview with the New York Giants, who could’ve offered the 44-year-old coach a chance to return to his home state of New York. in late December that the Panthers intended to interview Rhule.
After firing longtime coach Ron Rivera, the Panthers began their search with an experienced name, reportedly speaking with ex-Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy on two different occasions. McCarthy, however,on Monday, replacing the fired Jason Garrett.
Panthers owner David Tepper had previously (and unsuccessfully) attempted to arrange a formal interview with Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, La Canfora reported in December, and while Tepper has talked somewhat skeptically about the ability of college coaches to make the jump to the NFL, he’s specifically highlighted Fitzgerald and Rhule as coaches who “definitely appealed to him,” per La Canfora.
A former Penn State linebacker who spent more than 15 years as an assistant college coach, mostly for Temple and Western Carolina but also with the New York Giants in 2012, Rhule first became a head coach in 2013, when he succeeded Steve Addazio at Temple. After four years there, in which he guided the Owls to back-to-back 10-win seasons and East Division titles, the New York native took over at Baylor, where he’s turned a program that went 1-11 in 2017 into a conference power, guiding the Bears to an 11-2 mark in 2019 after coaching them to a winning season in 2018.