Nebraska's Matt Rhule recalls 'embarrassing' experience with 'savant' Bill Belichick at coaches clinic

Nebraska’s Matt Rhule recalls ’embarrassing’ experience with ‘savant’ Bill Belichick at coaches clinic

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Bill Belichick spent multiple decades on NFL sidelines. The Nebraska football program recently decided to tap into Belichick’s vast coaching experience and hosted the six-time Super Bowl winner at its coaches clinic.

Belichick and the New England Patriots parted ways earlier this year after spending more than two decades together. The Atlanta Falcons interviewed Belichick following coach Arthur Smith’s dismissal, but team owner Arthur Blank said he decided against extending an offer to Belichick. Every other NFL team with an opening during this year’s hiring cycle filled their vacancies with other coaches.

It appears Belichick will not coach a professional football team in 2024, but his football acumen is still largely held in high regard. His football IQ appeared to be on full display during the coaching clinic, so much so that Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule was left in awe.


 Bill Belichick chats with Matt Rhule

Aug 19, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule on the field before the start of the game at Gillette Stadium. (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

Rhule said he was humbled as Belichick conducted a full-blown football masterclass during the two-day clinic.

“He is so smart, has seen so much that he can make the complex so simple that it humbles you and embarrass you,” Rhule told reporters.


“I was embarrassed sitting next to him at how smart he is, how simple it was. He went four and a half hours just with the coaches. Forget the clinic. He came in and met with our coaching staff. And three and a half hours in, I was like, ‘Coach, would you like a water? A coffee? Would you like to use the restroom?’ I desperately had to use the restroom. And he’s like, ‘I’m fine, man.’ I was like, ‘Yes, sir.’ And just sitting there and just talking and just his recall from things 15 years ago, the only reason why we don’t go through more information is because he’s having to slow down so you understand what he’s saying.”

Matt Rhule speaks to the media

Head coach Matt Rhule of Nebraska Cornhuskers answers questions at the press conference following the game at Memorial Stadium on April 22, 2023 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

Rhule, who is entering his second season at Nebraska, described Belichick as a “savant” and proceeded to highlight some of the items on the former NFL coach’s resume.

“You have this man who’s a savant. He’s been a defensive coordinator. He’s been a special teams coordinator. He can be an offensive coordinator. He’s been a head coach, twice. He’s been GM. And he’s talking about football in a way that just illuminates things and makes things so simple that you’re like, ‘Oh, my goodness.'”

During his coaching career, Belichick developed a reputation for his meticulous approach to game planning and his in-game coaching decisions.

Seven-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady described Belichick as the “the greatest coach ever.”

Nebraska's Matt Rhule recalls 'embarrassing' experience with 'savant' Bill Belichick at coaches clinic

Football: Super Bowl LII: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick before game vs Philadelphia Eagles at US Bank Stadium. Minneapolis. (Simon Bruty /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

“I don’t know the criteria for hiring coaches. I’ve never been a part of it,” Brady said on his “Let’s Go!” podcast with Jim Gray and Larry Fitzgerald in February. “I’m surprised that the greatest coach ever doesn’t have a job, absolutely. But, you know, I’m surprised (about) a lot of things in the NFL.”

But, Belichick’s coaching style has also faced considerable criticism. The Patriots’ unprecedented run of success was recently documented in Apple TV’s docuseries “The Dynasty: New England Patriots.”

Each episode drew an array of reactions, with some criticizing the portrayal of Belichick. Three-time All-Pro safety Rodney Harrison acknowledged that his former coach made his fair share of “mistakes,” but he also defended Belichick.


“They act like the last three or four years cause the Patriots have struggled that Bill can’t coach,” Harrison said. “Bill made some mistakes and he wasn’t always the nicest or the purest guy, but at the end of the day he always did whatever he had to do to make the team better.

“Think about this: He gave me an opportunity, a fifth-round draft choice. He gave Tom Brady an opportunity. He sat down a $100 million quarterback when no one thought it was popular and started Tom Brady. … He gives guys who are the underdog an opportunity. No one talks about that.”

Nebraska’s annual spring game is scheduled for April 27. The Cornhuskers kick off the regular season on Aug. 31 when they host UTEP.

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