Matt Rhule had heard about the job with the New York Giants from a former Temple assistant on the staff. It wasn't a glamour job, assistant offensive line coach. Not offensive line. Assistant offensive line.
Rhule was interested. Word got passed to Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.
Two weeks went by, Rhule didn't hear a thing. He checked in to see what was going on.
"He called me," said Rhule, then a Temple assistant, now Temple's head coach, but for one season in between, the 2012 season, the Giants assistant offensive line coach. He got that job.
Just not right away.
"He told me, 'Matt, listen, I'm going to go in a different direction,' " Rhule said. "I wasn't truly an offensive-line guy, which I think was part of the issue."
Rhule got the sense that Coughlin wasn't getting his hopes up while keeping all his options open. Rhule told Coughlin if anything opened up he'd definitely be interested in interviewing for it.
"Fast-forward a couple of weeks, I'm mowing my lawn in Elkins Park, I got a phone call from a Giants number," Rhule said Wednesday afternoon over the phone. "Tom said, 'I think I'm going to go in a different direction, but I'd like to bring you in for an interview.' "
Rhule got up there quickly.
"He asked hard questions - about the good parts of my career, failures, everything," Rhule said. "He kept telling me I wasn't going to get the job. I think he really didn't know me."
It was a long day, made longer by the flat tire noticed out in the parking lot. Rhule stuck around a while longer than expected. The next day, Coughlin called him. He got the job. Rhule had played for Joe Paterno and worked as a young assistant at UCLA and other places and then at Temple under Al Golden and Steve Addazio.
But it was worth checking in with him this week, with Coughlin leaving the Giants, since Rhule makes it clear that his one season with Coughlin was one of the most beneficial experiences of his career and carried over to his tenure at Temple.
(We'll pause to mention there are no signs that a third-year head coach at Temple has been part of any NFL head coaching mix, with the Giants or anybody else, despite a whiff of media speculation that Rhule could be a good candidate.)
What you thought you saw from Coughlin is what he was, Rhule said. Tough, demanding, but the best Rhule has seen at putting players in a position to succeed. Winning different ways, with different kinds of players.
The human side of Coughlin was evident, Rhule said, when Rhule's wife was having a difficult pregnancy and at one point had to go to the hospital. This was just before the Giants were playing the Dallas Cowboys. Rhule got to the hospital, then got to the team meeting. Coughlin went over to him.
"He comes off almost angry, like, 'What are you doing here?' " Rhule said.
Rhule remembers the head coach who would have time for five or 10 minutes of small talk in the morning in the locker room after a personal workout. Most every morning.
"Once work started, it wasn't touchy-feely," Rhule said. "It was get the job done."
When they had Tuesday meetings and it was time for him to present something, Rhule quickly found out he would get grilled by the head coach if there was a small hole in the presentation.
"Just really exacting, really precise," Rhule said. "It was something to measure myself on a Tuesday - all right, he didn't have questions."
Rhule hasn't forgotten Coughlin took the time to call Temple's athletic director on behalf of the assistant offensive line coach. And that one-on-one time - Rhule noticed it wasn't just for him.
"I had been in college football - I didn't know what it would be like," Rhule said. "I saw as a young coach, you need to spend time with guys one-on-one, whether your franchise [NFL] quarterback or your [college] freshman backup. If you're saying something, you better do it one-on-one."
That's why, Rhule said, you're seeing an outpouring of emotion from Giants franchise quarterback Eli Manning and quite a few others about their coach's leaving the building.
Don't read any of that sideways, taking it as a knock on Chip Kelly. Rhule has talked many times of the strong relationship he had with the now-former Eagles coach and the respect he had for Kelly, who always had time for him and was a consistent supporter of Temple's football program.
It's just that the guy up the turnpike had the day-to-day impact on Rhule. One year was enough.
"There are lots of great organizations but I think the Giants are the class of the NFL," Rhule said. "It's just been that way for years and years and years. And that's who he was, day in and day out."