Matt Rhule will no longer rule the Carolina Panthers.
The organisation announced Monday morning that Rhule has been relieved of his duties five games into his third season with the team. Steve Wilks, who was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 and had been serving as a defensive assistant in Carolina, will take over for Rhule on an interim basis.
The Panthers were 1-4 this season, after going 5-12 last year and 5-11 in 2020.
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Sunday, the Panthers lost 37-15 to the 49ers in a game that never felt competitive.
“Just to talk about this game, you know, I believe that we had a chance to be closer than it was,” Rhule said after the defeat in what would be his lass press conference as Carolina’s head coach.
“You know I think the pick-six and then I think our defence kind of hung in there…. I just feel like we are better than we’ve shown. It’s how I feel but you are what your record says you are. We are 1-4. It’s not where any of us intended to be. We got to get that turned around.”
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The Panthers will now try and that without Rhule. There had been higher expectations coming into this season after acquiring Baker Mayfeld from the Cleveland Browns.
Mayfield has completed just 54.9 percent of his passes this season, throwing as many interceptions — four — as touchdowns.
Panthers owner David Tepper pulled the plug despite the fact that Rhule was not even halfway through his seven-year, $62 million ($A98m) contract.
It is likely that Rhule, who oversaw program turnarounds at Temple and Baylor as head coach prior to joining the Panthers, will be a candidate for major college coaching jobs that either are already open or about to be in the coming months.
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Right now, the highest profile job opening in college football is Nebraska, after Scott Frost was fired earlier this season. Bryan Harsin’s job has been rumoured to be in jeopardy for months at Auburn, but it has not made the move.
Wisconsin fired Paul Chryst last week after a disappointing loss to Illinois, but interim coach Jim Leonhard would seem to have the inside track to keep that job going forward.
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In early 2020, the Giants were considered the favourites to hire Rhule before Tepper swooped in with a massive offer for the Baylor coach.