He coaches in the American Athletic Conference. He's an ambitious head coach that has led his team into the national conversation. He's around the age of 40.
And he doesn't coach at Houston or Memphis.
I'm a little surprised that Temple's Matt Rhule, who has taken the Owls from afterthought to a leading AAC program in just three years, hasn't been mentioned as the next potential head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks. Maybe he should.
You'll find Rhule and Justin Fuente are somewhat similar as far as their overall paths are concerned. Fuente had two sub-.500 seasons (Rhule has one) before going 10-3 in 2014 and 8-0 thus far in 2015. He's got a big win in his pocket - against Ole Miss, which is looking good and might look even better at the end of the season. Rhule doesn't have an Ole Miss-esque victory to his credit just yet, and had a chance to top Fuente last night as the Owls barely lost to Notre Dame - whose only loss is against Clemson - but if these two teams played a couple of years ago, the Irish would have blown them out of the stadium. Put him against Tom Herman, and Rhule has the trump card in one important area: years of experience. While they aren't the offensive juggernaut that Houston is, they're 9th in the country in scoring defense (15.8). (Houston is 18th at 17.3.)
As far as recruiting goes, Rhule knows the Northeast and can sell the program there, but how will that translate to in-state athletes and big-time names in the South when he's going up against Alabama, Clemson and Georgia? But here's another plus. While Temple is located in a much, much larger market in Columbia, South Carolina's facilities are much better, and they play in a much more prestigious conference. Rhule has exposure to the South as an assistant at Western Carolina. It wouldn't be out of the question to see him return to the Carolinas. (He's mentioned that his wife and children love the Philadelphia area, but don't think that he won't jump for the right situation. Virginia, Maryland and Virginia Tech have been mentioned as possible destinations, but if it comes down to money, Rhule's making $1.3 million a year, a figure South Carolina could easily match and exceed. The one question might be his buyout, not made public.)
There's still a long way to go, and there are still plenty of other names that we haven't mentioned yet that will come to the forefront. But Rhule should be one of them. Whether or not the Gamecocks will make a serious play for him remains to be seen.