WACO, Texas (KWTX) Baylor University officials Tuesday wished head football coach Matt Rhule well as he departs to take the reins of the Carolina Panthers and said the school is beginning a nationwide search for a head coach, at least two candidates for which have already emerged.
“Baylor University extends its deepest appreciation to Coach Rhule for his exceptional leadership of our football program over the past three seasons,” President Linda Livingstone said in a statement.
“We are especially appreciative of the efforts he has made in positively shaping the lives of our football student-athletes, who have excelled on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Coach Rhule certainly leaves the program in a better place than when he arrived, and we have a bright future ahead for Baylor football,” she said.
KWTX learned Tuesday from a source with knowledge of the situation that one “in-house” candidate to succeed Rhule is assistant coach Joey McGuire.
The source told KWTX Tuesday morning McGuire has been named interim head coach and will meet with the team at 7 p.m. Sunday.
McGuire just finished his third season on Matt Rhule’s staff and is a Texas native with strong recruiting ties in-state.
As far as candidates outside of Baylor, KWTX learned from the same source University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Billy Napier is a favorite.
Napier is a former assistant at Alabama and Clemson.
The 40-year-old just led ULL to a 10-3 season and a 27-17 win over the Miami (Ohio) Red Hawks in the LendingTree Bowl.
Rhule took the Bears from 11 losses in 2017 to 11 wins this season.
“While our hope was that Matt would be our coach for many years to come, we knew there was a possibility that the NFL would come calling,” Baylor Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack B. Rhoades IV said in a statement.
“Matt’s time with Baylor marks one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history. Our football program’s success this year is evidence that we are headed in the right direction with 11 wins, an appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game and the Sugar Bowl.”
“We have launched a national search for our next head coach, and we will not make any comments on prospective candidates or where we are in the process until we are ready to introduce the next leader of our football program.”