I am back from my vacation and I was able to get Baylor head coach Matt Rhule to talk some football with me on my radio show. At the 6:13 mark I asked him if he's had a chance to speak with former head coach Art Briles, who left the Bears with a damaged reputation.
Baylor head coach Matt Rhule recently went on the Newy Scruggs Show on NBC Sports Radio. Here are some highlights.
On Baylor's quarterback situation:
"We have three kids that we feel really good about. I don't know who the man under center is going to be to start the season. I don't know who our starter's going to be, but what I do know is we have Anu Solomon, who is a senior, who as a freshman took Arizona to the Pac-12 championship game. He's a guy who can make plays with his feet, can make plays with arm, can make plays with his head. The guys on the team respond to him. He has a certain swagger that's infectious. Zach Smith played the last 4-5 games last year, led the team to a win over a really good Boise State team in a bowl game. He's got an NFL arm, he'll be a great NFL player. Charlie Brewer out of Lake Travis came in and he just has it. He won a state championship. He's got just a knack for making plays. All three are different but all three give us a really good chance to win. That's why I feel pretty good that the future's bright for us because we'll be good at quarterback for a long time."
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On how many of his friends in the coaching industry told him not to take the Baylor job:
"(Laughs) I had a lot of people say that to me. One of my players I was most closest to was a kid named Dion Dawkins. He just got drafted in the second round by the Buffalo Bills. It was hard telling him I was not going to coach the bowl game. He said, 'Coach, I know you. I know that's a job you had to take.' And people who get me know that this was one of the only jobs I would have taken. I think that there is an opportunity to do something here that is much greater than football. That to me is a really exciting opportunity."
On the conversation with his wife about taking the Baylor job:
"I don't have the guts to tell me my wife I want to take the Baylor job. I said, 'Hey, honey, what do you think?' She's such an important part. She was involved in this process with me. She knew Mack Rhoades, our athletic director here at Baylor. She had a tremendous amount of confidence in him. She had a feel for the Waco area just from watching 'Fixer Upper' and she knew she had an idea of what the place would look like. She sat in with me for another interview for another job I had the opportunity to go to. Her and I made the decision together. At the end of the day, to come to Central Texas, where I would be able to recruit all of our student athletes within three or four hours, that affords us the chance to recruit kids like a family. And it gives me a chance to be a part of my family's life. I'm not on a plane every other day. So for us that was something that we really, really wanted to do. We wanted to come somewhere where my kids, my wife, could all be a part of it. And Baylor gave us a great opportunity to do that."
On how he helped turn around the Baylor morale after arriving in the wake of the sexual assault scandal:
"I don't want to minimize and say there's no scars here. But these are kids, some of whom pay to go to school, some of whom are on scholarship, a lot of them haven't done anything wrong. They've gone on the road, they've walked across campus and they've read their Twitters. They're called horrific names and they've seen people around them leave. And all they've done is they've stayed resolute. They've continued to get their education, they played hard last year. I think they needed some consistency, they needed some stability. So what we tried to do when we got here is say, 'Football will be last. Let's make sure we start to build a culture of excellence. Let's make sure we make academics important.' Which we did, we had the highest GPA that's ever on record here for one semester. We made community service important, 700 hours in three months. But most importantly, let's try to build relationships. Let's go sit and have dinner with them. Let's have guys over to our house and play ping-pong with them."