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December 14, 2012Temple will offer its head football coaching job to New York Giants assistant offensive line coach and former Owls assistant Matt Rhule, OwlScoop.com has learned. Rhule is expected to accept the offer, and a press conference to announce Rhule's hiring is set for Monday morning shortly before noon.
Rhule will replace Steve Addazio, who left the Owls after two seasons to become the head coach at Boston College last Tuesday, Dec. 4.
The 37-year-old Rhule, a State College, Pa., native who played linebacker at Penn State, was an assistant coach at Temple for six seasons from 2006 to 2011, including four as the Owls' offensive coordinator, before he was hired by Giants coach Tom Coughlin last March. Rhule first interviewed with Temple last Saturday in East Rutherford, N.J., and interviewed again Thursday night in Philadelphia with incoming Temple president Neil Theobald.
University of Miami defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, who was Temple's defensive coordinator for five seasons before following Al Golden to join the Hurricanes' staff, was the other finalist for the job but withdrew his name from consideration Friday morning. Temple Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw and his search committee interviewed at least a half dozen other candidates, including Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator and former Temple safety Todd Bowles, current Owls defensive coordinator Chuck Heater, former Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal and Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.
Rhule interviewed for the Temple job back in December of 2010 after Golden left for Miami and was retained by Addazio as the Owls' co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. He was credited with the development of former Owls tight end Evan Rodriguez, who last April became a fourth-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears. Rhule initially came to Temple as the Owls' defensive line coach after four seasons as an assistant at Western Carolina. Upon arriving on North Broad Street, he worked with former Temple defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, who was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Rhule was also Temple's quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator during the 2006 and 2007 seasons and helped the Owls haul in three top-ranked recruiting classes in the Mid-American Conference from 2006 to 2008. He has been the lead recruiter on several of Temple's best players over the past several seasons, including former defensive end Adrian Robinson, who made the Pittsburgh Steelers roster as an undrafted rookie free agent this season, and kicker/punter Brandon McManus, who this season became the Owls' all-time leading scorer. Rhule also helped land several of Temple's promising young players before he left to join the Giants' staff this season, including freshman linebacker and Big East Rookie of the Year Tyler Matakevich and sophomore Jalen Fitzpatrick, the Owls' leading receiver.
After Boston College hired Addazio, Rhule's name quickly emerged and circulated as a favorite among Temple's players, several of whom took to social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to voice their support for Rhule before expressing those same sentiments the following day in a meeting with Bradshaw and members of his senior staff.
Rhule will inherit a Temple team that went 4-7 in its first season back in the Big East since 2004. The Owls also have verbal commitments from 15 players from the 2013 class, and all of them have remained committed during the 11 days the program has been without a head coach.
OwlScoop.com editor John Di Carlo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @OwlScoop_com or @jdicarlo.