Tom Osborne’s ‘cordial’ call with Matt Rhule includes chat about Mickey Joseph

Take a look at the playing and coaching career of Matt Rhule.


LINCOLN — Matt Rhule said he crossed an item off his bucket list Saturday morning.

“I talked to Coach Osborne,” Nebraska’s new football coach said on ESPN of a conversation with the legendary Husker coach and athletic director.

Osborne said Saturday that the call was “cordial” and relatively brief. Osborne said he expected the call from Rhule after NU Athletic Director Trev Alberts phoned Saturday to tell Osborne Rhule wanted to chat.

“I told Matt I’d help in any way I could,” Osborne said, “but I’m not going to be an interfering influence.”

Osborne had been instrumental in encouraging Rhule’s predecessor, Scott Frost, to become NU’s head coach in 2017. Osborne also supported Frost’s interim replacement, Mickey Joseph, another former Husker quarterback.

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“I talked to (Rhule) a little bit about Mickey and the job Mickey’s done in the interim,” Osborne said.

Joseph would be a good addition to any staff, Osborne said when asked if Rhule should try to retain Joseph.

“I would think that would be important, obviously,” Osborne said. “I can’t go any further than that. “He’s a good recruiter, he relates well to people and he’s a straight shooter. He doesn’t give you any baloney. He tells you pretty much how it is. I like those qualities in him. It would serve anybody well to have him.”

Osborne praised Alberts for a “thoughtful” search process. Osborne did not talk to Alberts much about the coaching search over the last several months, but he received occasional updates, including a sense of who the final six or seven candidates turned out to be.

“I just listened because I’ve never met most of these people,” Osborne said. “I’m old enough now that I’m not in touch with the current generation of coaches.”

Due to some “appointments” that are “pretty important,” Osborne said it’s unlikely he’ll attend Monday’s 1:30 pm press conference at the Hawks Championship Center to introduce Rhule. If Osborne’s not there, he said, it’s no reflection on what he thinks of the hire.

“I don’t want to be an outside or interfering presence,” Osborne said. “This is between Matt Rhule, the university, Trev Alberts and the rest of the coaching staff. I’m not part of that. I’m not planning on being there.”

Rhule has done good work in turning around two college programs, Temple and Baylor from struggling teams into double-digit winners.

“He certainly took over Baylor under difficult circumstances,” Osborne said of Rhule, who became Baylor’s head coach in the wake of the sexual assault scandal within the program.

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