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Report: Matt Rhule finalizing deal to become Panthers head coach

The Panthers have found their guy to replace Ron Rivera and are working on finalizing a contract.

The Carolina Panthers are working to finalizing a deal that would make Baylor head coach Matt Rhule their next head coach, according to Yahoo! Sports reporter Pete Thamel. The Panthers fired Ron Rivera in early December and finished the season with Perry Fewell as interim head coach.

Rhule has been a popular name in the coaching carousel this month, and was expected to interview next with the New York Giants. Rhule was expected to fly up to New Jersey to talk with Giants ownership, but the Panthers appear to have put on the full court press to get a deal done, according to Ian Rapoport.

Assuming a deal gets done, the Panthers new head coach brings an intriguing offensive mind to the game. His Baylor team runs a spread with plenty of run pass options, but he is not a fan of the RPO. He views himself in the context of smash mouth football, but he has shown a willingness to adjust to whatever will help him win football games in the given context. What that means for the Panthers remains to be seen, but you always want a coach willing to adjust to the situation rather than simply force his specific beliefs on the personnel.

Rhule has primarily spent his time in college football, but does have brief NFL experience as an assistant offensive line coach with the Giants in 2012. Rhule interviewed for the New York Jets head coach job but backed out after then GM Mike Maccagnan wanted more say in the coaching staff.

In three seasons at Baylor, Rhule’s teams went 1-11, 7-6, and most recently 11-3. The Bears won the Texas Bowl last year and lost in this year’s Sugar Bowl. Prior to coaching at Baylor, Rhule was head coach at Temple for four seasons. His four seasons included records of 2-10, 6-6, 10-4, and 10-3, with bowl appearances in each of the final two seasons.