Opinion: The NFL’s ‘Golden Rhule’ has costly implications

The old joke is perhaps more insulting than amusing — and certainly burns the ears of educators and athletic department personnel alike.

Maybe you’ve heard it: “Those who can’t do, teach … and those who can’t teach, teach gym.”

But now, it appears some “former gym teachers” — also known as coaches — are getting the last laugh in the form of huge deposits into their checking accounts.

The first high-profile “personnel casualty” in the National Football League during the 2022 season took place in the aftermath of week five, when the Carolina Panthers parted company with head coach Matt Rhule.

Good thing for Matt that an updated “Golden Rhule” was in effect because he signed a seven-year, $62 million contract that was fully guaranteed back in 2020.

He will have to make do with $834,000 per month over the next 48 months to just “hang around the house” — or perhaps build several new ones.

Maybe Matt will “go back to school” and return to coaching in the collegiate ranks.

That would certainly please the Panthers, who would see that remaining $40 million “investment” offset by any future head coaching wages paid to Rhule.

Despite losing twice as many games as he won as an NFL coach, Rhule remains a “hot commodity” in the eyes of big-time college football headhunters. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network claims that Matt will “have his choice of coveted college jobs” once this season ends.

Nowhere is a winning coach more needed now than at Nebraska.

The Cornhuskers have suffered through a “football famine” for more than two decades, having last won a share of the National Championship in 1997. That’s why Nebraska named the starting quarterback from that title year, Scott Frost, as the Huskers head coach in late 2018. Frost was “on fire” at the time, having just coached UCF to an undefeated season.

But once he returned home to Lincoln, Frost led Nebraska into a football “deep freeze,” suffering through four straight losing seasons and recording only one win and two defeats through the first three weeks of the 2022 campaign.

By firing Frost in September, athletic director Trev Alberts was actually doing the hard-luck Nebraska alumnus a favor.

Had the Huskers handed Frost his walking papers in October, the buyout on Scott’s contract would have been reduced by 50%.

So, the September dismissal paid him a generous $15 million, which will keep Frost and his family warm this winter — and during many more winters to come.

Closer to home, the “Winter of Discontent” for Arizona State with head coach Herm Edwards was likewise concluded in September with what looks like another multimillion-dollar payout. One estimate puts the total at $10.8 million.

Or maybe not.

Because there’s been no apparent resolution to the NCAA investigation of the Sun Devil football program, it is conceivable that Edwards could wind up with no severance pay, and would perhaps have to pay $75,000 from his own pocket should the collegiate sports governing body determine that he was directly involved in rule violations.

But other observers believe a big payday is in Herm’s future, based in part on the “official language” used to announce his departure by ASU athletic director Ray Anderson.

“Herm did not resign. He was not dismissed. We agreed to a mutual relinquishment of duties,” Anderson said.

“We’ll have to work through what all of that means at the end of the day. … Agents are out there and attorneys are out there, both from the institutional point of view and the agents and client.”

Ray Anderson should know.

He was Herm’s agent back during Edwards’ playing days in the NFL.

The recent intrigue at ASU has prompted a joke that’s not very funny to the Sun Devil faithful.

“There are two types of athletic directors. Those who hire and fire coaches … and those who hire and then fire their ex-clients.”

Ears are burning in Tempe, and a big chunk of cash will burn a hole through the ASU athletic budget right into the pocket of Herm Edwards.