March 17, 2013 at 5:20 PM
The local product spent several years as an assistant on Temple’s staff and after a one-year stint on the New York Giants’ staff last year, Rhule has returned to the City of Brotherly Love as the Owls’ head coach.
Rhule, who walked on at Penn State in 1994, spoke fondly of his days in Happy Valley, where he not only spent his college days but also was raised.
Penn State and Temple will not face each other this year — a “one-year reprieving,” Rhule called it — but the two will play again in the 2014 season in Beaver Stadium.
Below are some of the highlights of Rhule’s comments, touching on everything from his memories of playing under coach Joe Paterno to in-state recruiting competition with Bill O’Brien.
On his coaching influences:
“There’s a lot of Tom Coughlin in there. I really learned a lot from him this year. And there’s still a lot of Joe. Coach Paterno always had two drills going [at the same time]. There was never one drill. I find myself losing my mind when I’m watching one drill, so we do two drills.”
On the importance of a walk-on program for Pennsylvania schools:
“You need to go somewhere where you just get an opportunity. I walked on at Penn State. I couldn't even be on the team my first year. I just went to games. And then four years later, I’m standing out there at Homecoming when I think we were the No. 2 team in the country and I had a chance to be a captain for that game…
“Whether you come to school as a walk-on or you come to school as the No. 1 recruit in the country, it’s important that the people that go to high school in Pennsylvania, the young people can go somewhere to have an opportunity to play college football.”
On returning to Beaver Stadium in the past and future:
“I’ll always remember [as a Temple assistant] the fans on our sideline as we walked out after we had lost, giving us a standing ovation. That’s not the kind of coach I want to be, having moral victories, let me say that. But I just think that tells you the kind of place that this is. This is a tremendous place filled with tremendous people. My family is still here. From that perspective, I think it will probably be a nice moment for me. But then the whistle snaps, and you can’t hear a thing…Then it’s on.
“This place means a lot to me because not only did I go to school here, I grew up here. I met my wife here, so there’s a lot of family things.”
On his recruiting pitch, especially to in-state players:
“I think the thing that we try to do is just show who we are. Coming to play football in the city is not for everybody. But you can’t assume that it’s not for somebody…We’re 38,000 students. We have 281,000 alumni worldwide. We have the fourth largest media market. We are in the city of Philadelphia.”
On the benefits of playing in the altered Big East conference:
“I think with the [new] conference, just the fact that we have an opportunity…and that’s all we ever ask for in life, is just to have an opportunity. We have that, so it’s up to our kids now and myself and coaches to take advantage of it.”