WACO, Texas -- Saying he felt called to serve at Baylor, Matt Rhule introduced himself as the school's new football coach Wednesday by vowing to win championships and build up players and a program that makes everybody proud.
Rhule laid out his vision for what the Bears can become with the passion and enthusiasm befitting of a preacher's son during an introductory ceremony at the school's Ferrell Center basketball arena. After leading Temple to back-to-back 10-win seasons and an American Athletic Conference championship, Rhule believes he's ready for a new challenge.
"When the call came to come here, we came," Rhule said. "And we came because we have one purpose. I'm here very simply for this: to develop and work with these young people. I'm here to coach football, and I'm here to be the best partner that I can for Baylor."
The 41-year-old coach replaces former Baylor coach Art Briles, who was fired in May in the wake of the school's sexual assault scandal. While talking about his new players Wednesday, Rhule thanked Briles for "bringing these young men to Baylor." He acknowledged he did not do much research on the more than year-long scandal before accepting the job, but said he trusts Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades.
"We don't have enough time in college football to do a ton of research," Rhule said. "You have about 24 hours. But I felt really good about this university and these people."
Rhule was asked specifically what disciplinary rules he'll bring to running his Baylor program and replied: "I think there's some non-negotiable things that you can't do. You can't hurt women. You can't hurt people that are less fortunate than you. You can't bully other people. You know, that was kind of the way I handled it at Temple. I'll handle it the same way."
Rhule, who went 28-23 in four seasons at Temple, has spent most of his coaching career in the Northeast and doesn't have ties to the state of Texas. He said the opportunity to come to Texas and recruit in "the epicenter of high school football" was one of the many reasons he wanted the job.
"We want to win championships," Rhule said. "We want to win the Big 12 championship. We want to win the national championship. I didn't come here for anything else. We want to win at the highest level because we should."
He described the offense he'll bring to Waco as dynamic and plans to pair it with a defense that ranked No. 3 in FBS at Temple this season. Of the hundreds of texts Rhule said he received from fellow coaches, one in particular from former NFL coach Jon Gruden urged him to "bring some power to the Big 12."
Rhoades, Baylor's first-year athletic director, had known Rhule long before he began conducting the coaching search and said he contacted Rhule after Temple defeated Navy 34-10 in the AAC championship game on Saturday. Rhoades was adamant Wednesday that Rhule was the only coach he offered the job to during the process.
"You know, I think it was 30 minutes into the interview where my gut, in my heart, in my mind, this is our guy," Rhoades said.
ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported Rhule received a seven-year deal. Rhule and Rhoades would not confirm that, but Rhule did say he appreciates being given long-term support to build the program the right way.
"We wanted to give us time to do it the right way and with the right kids," Rhule said. "I want to recruit Texas high school football players. Get them here, develop them, watch them grow our four or five years, then see what you have. It worked at Temple, and it's a different world, but there are a lot of similarities."
Rhule met with his Baylor players shortly before the introductory event and said he hopes to meet with individually in the near future.
"He seems like a really energetic and fun guy to play for," quarterback Zach Smith said. "We know he's a players' coach, and he's a great coach. So, I'm looking forward to what he can do here."
Baylor interim coach Jim Grobe received a standing ovation from the crowd of Baylor supports who attended the event Wednesday and will remain on staff to coach the 6-6 Bears' Motel 6 Cactus Bowl against Boise State on Dec. 27.
Rhule has not revealed which assistant coaches he's bringing with him from Temple, but he is planning to meet with each of the Bears' current assistant coaches and the possibility of some current staffers being retained has not been ruled out.