The mysterious ending to Matt Rhule’s Jets coaching candidacy

One of the mysteries of the Jets coaching hire is how close they came to offering the job to Baylor coach Matt Rhule.

It depends on whom you ask.

A big part of all of these job interviews was whom a head coach would want to hire for his staff, particularly on offense to mentor Sam Darnold. That was an even bigger issue with the college coaches — Rhule and Kliff Kingsbury — who had little to no NFL experience.

How much of an issue is where things get murky.

Sources who have spoken to Rhule say the Jets wanted to hand-pick his offensive coordinator. A source said Rhule consulted Bill Parcells, who told him not to take any job where he can’t pick his own staff.

Three sources familiar with the Jets’ coaching search say that the team did want some say in the coaching staff, not just for Rhule but for any candidate, but they were not going to dictate to the coach whom to hire.

So what’s true?

No one knows except Rhule, Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan and CEO Christopher Johnson.

Here is what is not being debated, though. The Jets never offered the job to Rhule. Adam Gase was the only coach they offered the job to. So any effort to frame this as “Rhule was the Jets’ first choice” is not a full picture. No one from the Jets told him the job was his if he hired a certain offensive coordinator.

What I would surmise from talking to people is that the Jets got down to decision time Wednesday and they liked Gase, Rhule and Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken. There were plenty of factors to weigh — one being who would be on the coaching staff with each of them.

I doubt that was the deciding factor, but it was probably big and rightfully so.

Shortly after the Jets picked Gase and informed Rhule, word leaked that Rhule was staying at Baylor. Clearly, he wants it to look like he rejected the Jets and not vice versa. Everyone protects their own butt. That’s the way the world works.

We’ll never know exactly how close the Jets came to hiring Rhule, but the fact is they didn’t.

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