Temple’s Matt Rhule recently had a chance to speak with Metro Philly about the Owls’ recent 10-4 season and what he intends to do to build on that.
The 41-year-old Rhule, named Tri-State Coach of the Year by the Maxwell Club, recently signed a six-year extension
What are you doing these days with spring football still weeks away and the season 7 months off? Do you ever take some time off?
“Unfortunately, this is kind of the life. I’m on my way to speak at a high school coaches’ clinic at Penn State right now. But this is the fun time of the year, where we can get these young guys ready. We get about eight hours a week where we can do some conditioning and movement stuff, plus a couple of hours of meetings. Teach ‘em how to be tough. But we can’t practice. I do relax. My wife and I go out a lot. My idea of fun is walking around city or going to see a movie. I’m probably a boring guy.”
Now that you’ve had a chance to look back, after a 7-0 start what went wrong at the end of the season when you lost four of your last seven?.
“I don’t think that way at all. I’m disappointed in the last two. Really disappointed we didn’t play our best football and trying to search for answers whether our approach was right or we were just tired. But only one team wins the championship game. I look at it we were one of the best two teams in our league. We did things that hadn’t been done here. But there’s still steps have to take.”
How do replace as many good players as you’re losing? How quickly will it take for their replacements to adjust?
“It’s a challenge for next year having lost so many good players. That’s why we look over the long haul for them have some sustained consistency. It goes in steps.
Someone has to play as well as (Matt) Ionnidis and (Tyler) Matakevich and Tavon Young. That’s the standard. It’s not gonna be easy. One of our goals is we want our seniors to play their best ball in their senior year. We have a good group of seniors. If they can play their best football we think we have a chance to have a really good team.”
What was recruiting like this season and how has it changed over the years?
“I think this is our best class. I think we recruited on a different level in terms of who we were competing against. Our recruiting has changed. At first we were selling hope, selling promises; a vision. Now there’s something more substantial to that. They can look at it and see the progress both from a recognition standpoint and as a team. We proved we can win and play at a high level. I think that’s made a significant difference.
Why did you turn down an opportunity to possibly go to a bigger program and how big an ego boost is that to be considered?
“I try pretty hard not to be ego driven. It shows us we’re doing the right things. Those people are professionals and they’re trying to build a winner, I take it as a compliment to our entire program. The fact is this is a place we believe where you can have long term success and really have a great life. The questions you ask yourself are do I like where I work? Do I like where I live? Do I like the people I work with?Those answers are a resounding yes.”
Does Temple need a new on campus stadium?
”I wouldn’t say we need anything. We’ll play in the street. But I do think if that decision is made it will not only be a great thing for our football program, but for football in the area and for the students on our campus, I’m obviously for it.
Do you want your 11-year-old son, Bryant, playing football?
“I’m very cognizant of not forcing anything on my kid and not being a sports Dad,. If he wants to play football I’m 100% in favor of it. He’s probably a little on the small side, which is why hasn’t wanted to play so far. But I didn’t play until 7th grade, so if he wants to play I’ll leave it up to him.”
What’s it like living in Center City now after being in the suburbs so long?.
“We lived in Elkins Park for a long time, but we just kept having kids (Matt and Julie have a two-year-old and 7-month-old) so we outgrew the house and had to move. One thing about the city there’s so many great places opening up. I’m always trying to find a new place. I like Dandelion,, South Philly Taproom and a place near I live, South Gate Korean barbecue. But I’m very rarely recognized.”