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Panthers hire Baylor's Matt Rhule as head coach

The Carolina Panthers have found their next head coach.

The team announced Tuesday it hired Baylor's Matt Rhule to be the franchise's fifth ever permanent head coach.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Rhule's contract is for seven years and worth a whopping $62 million. The deal also includes a $2.5 million signing bonus in addition to incentives for team goals such as winning seasons, playoff wins and Super Bowls. A large sum to lure Rhule from the college ranks to Carolina.

"This was a unique opportunity," Rhule told reporters outside his home. "After meeting with Mr. David] Tepper, the owner of the [Panthers, after meeting with [general manager] Marty Hurney, it just seemed like a unique opportunity to go to the next level and put a process in place that's going to win. But it was hard. It's hard just because I love these players. Players were texting me all day. They all understand. They want to go to the NFL, it's my chance to go to the NFL. But it doesn't take away from how much I care about them."

Rhule's resume of demonstrated success was enough to convince Carolina to bring him in as a candidate for its opening, and his interview sealed the deal. As Rapoport noted, Tepper met with Rhule and his family in Waco, Texas on Monday and made sure Rhule didn't board his flight to New York for his scheduled interview with the Giants. He'll instead be searching for homes in the Charlotte area as the new man selected to lead the Panthers, whose top two included Patriots OC Josh McDaniels.

The Giants changed course quickly, reaching a deal with Patriotsspecial teams coordinator Joe Judge, Rapoport reported.

Rhule rose to prominence by taking over an embattled Baylor football program and turning it into a contender in a short amount of time, going from 1-11 in 2017 to 11-3 in 2019. Rhule's Bears fell to Oklahoma twice in 2019, including a 30-23 defeat in the Big 12 Championship Game, but their quick rebound under Rhule was more than enough for NFL franchises to come calling.

His success at Baylor wasn't his first at the collegiate level, as he'd turned Temple into an American Athletic Conference power in a similarly short amount of time, taking the Owls from 2-10 in 2013 to 10-4 in 2015 and 10-3 in 2016. The coach has proven he can be a winner, no matter the conference.

Rhule isn't a hot college candidate dipping his toes into the NFL waters for the first time, either. The coach gained a year of professional experience under former Giants coach Tom Coughlin when he served as assistant offensive line coach in New York before returning to the collegiate ranks to begin his turnaround of Temple.

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