Report: Matt Rhule had eye on Penn State job, now interested in Michigan

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The status of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh remains in the spotlight among NFL circles as the NFL coaching carousel continues to unfold. Coming off a Big Ten championship season capped with an appearance in the College Football Playoff, Harbaugh’s stock is as high as it has been in quite some time, and the NFL rumor mill once again sees him as a popular option for filling a head coaching vacancy. Naturally, the big question in the Big Ten is who would be the next head coach of the Wolverines if Harbaugh did end up leaving.

And it turns out a former Penn State assistant coach could be interested in the opportunity should it be available.

Matt Rhule, a former Penn State player and assistant under Joe Paterno, has been reported to have interest in the Michigan job, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Rhule, who has previous successful college coaching experience at Temple and Baylor, is currently the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, although his status with the Panthers is looking to enter the 2022 season on thin ice. What was interesting to note from LaCanfora’s report is Rhule was keeping close tabs on the situation with Penn State and head coach James Franklin.

Rhule was keeping a close eye on the Penn State situation, sources said, where James Franklin ultimately landed a big extension, and may have pursued the LSU opening as well had they been more interested in him. With Rhule facing a pivotal third year in Carolina, with an expectation for much better results, a big-time college job opening up would draw attention.

If Franklin entertained an offer to coach elsewhere, including USC or LSU or in the NFL, then Rhule being the next head coach of the Nittany Lions would have been a major victory for Penn State. And this development will likely cause some discussion among Franklin’s loudest critics, as Rhule would be a natural fit at Penn State if the two paths were to ever actually line up together.

But with Franklin being locked into a long-term extension recently, the chances Rhule becomes a Penn State head coach look slim. As for Michigan, however, we will see if that becomes a different story. Harbaugh is still probably likely to be the head coach of the Wolverines in 2022, but the NFL rumor mill will not die down until every job is filled.

One of the jobs to be filled is with the Las Vegas Raiders. And if the Raiders were to offer Harbaugh the job, reports are indicating he could accept it and leave Michigan behind for another crack at success on the NFL sidelines.

Rhule coaching Michigan is certainly not a coaching hire Penn State fans would want to see in Ann Arbor.

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