Last week, Baylor University dismissed head Football coach Art Briles in one of the biggest college football scandals in Texas since the SMU death penalty was handed down in the 1980’s. If you know me, I am no fan of Briles and never really have been as a person nor as a coach. Even when Texas Tech had fired Mike Leach and many Tech fans were clamoring for Briles to come in and take over, I was one person who said if Tommy Tuberville (who was a train wreck) and Art Briles were the only two choices, I pick Tubs 10 out of 10 times. Yes, Briles has won basically everywhere he has been (Georgetown High being the one exception), but we live in a society where the ends do not justify the means. Briles was one of the examples to me of everything that is wrong with Texas football on every level, from Pee-Wee’s to Pros. I get it, Briles was hired to win football games in a largely irrelevant program, and he did just that. He recruited, he turned the program around and he won. That was the ends, but the means were never truly exposed until recently and for good reason, they were revealed to be something that could not be defended then, and especially not now. Briles was a disciple of the art of winning, but not just winning, winning at all costs.
Now, I have heard and been told a lot of things about Briles’ behavior from his days as a high school coach. One thing I try to stay away from is letting my feelings get in the way of what the facts are. I have heard it all; he ran up the score, he recruited players, he had the lax discipline approach and all of that. None of those rumors have serious credence to them and they are just that, rumors. I would wager that most of them are probably just untrue. You will not see me posting anything about Briles’ actions that I am not certain he did or some off the cuff former coach who may have gotten grilled by Briles who has a personal axe to grind. I do not do that, but I can tell you this for sure, Baylor’ success over the past 6-7 seasons has one giant asterix right by it. That aside, the question is should Briles have paid for his mistakes with his job?
Absolutely, and for the following reasons. If you wanted the poster child for lack of institutional control, Baylor is without a doubt your example. Here are just a few of the more notable ones.
In 2010, Wideout and dope smoking expert Josh Gordon was found passed out in running vehicle in a Waco Taco Bell with a half lit joint. Gordon was arrested for possession. He was suspended for one quarter against Texas Tech in a 45-38 loss to the Red Raiders in a game played in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Gordon came back into the game and made an immediate impact, scoring two touchdowns to keep the game close.
In April 2014, a woman told Waco police that Bears running back Devin Chafin grabbed her arm and slammed it against a car in front of teammates. She provided photos of bruises and told police about a previous attack in which she alleged Chafin grabbed her by the throat, slammed her against a wall and kicked her. The reporting officer wrote the woman was uncertain about pressing charges and Chafin wasn’t charged. Briles took little disciplinary action against Chafin.
Sam Ukwuachu transferred to Baylor in May 2013 because he had been kicked off the Boise State team for a previous incident of violence involving a female student; that Ukwuachu claimed after the transfer was announced that Baylor’s coaches “knew everything” about what happened in Idaho; and, as indicated by court documents obtained by Texas Monthly, the two programs had some communication regarding Ukwuachu in which Boise State officials expressed reticence about supporting the player’s efforts to get back on the field.
In 2012, a Baylor linebacker named Tevin Elliott was arrested for sexual assault. At the time of his arrest, Briles said only that the player would be suspended because he had “violated a team policy” and that he’d have no further comment. After Elliott’s conviction on two counts of sexual assault—in a trial that included four other witnesses who said that Elliott had raped them too—details about how the school had reacted to the victim’s claims prior to Elliott’s conviction began to trickle out. The Baylor Lariat quoted the victim’s mother as saying that the school “was not helpful in guiding her daughter during this academically stressful time,” and that the accuser lost her scholarship following the assault. The paper went on to cite the prosecutor, who claimed that “Waco Police Department detectives failed to follow through with victim interviews.” – See more at: http://www.texasmonthly.com/article/silence-at-baylor/#sthash.8rRcXFcH.dpuf
Ahmad Dixon was brought before a grand jury for misdemeanor assault. Though he was no-billed by the grand jury, Dixon was eventually arrested for driving recklessly through Waco with 22, that is right, 22 suspensions on his license.
I could go on and on. Briles wrote in his book Beating Goliath: My Story of Football and Faith, that the reason he brings in so many kids with troubled backgrounds is because is in the “kid saving business.” Oh sure, kids that need to be saved and also happen to be very gifted athletes and potential NFL recruits and never get punished for their vices and crimes. Just a coincidence I am sure, as Briles probably is more concerned with his ability to rehabilitate them than with their time in the 40 yard dash or their bench press reps numbers. (Sarcasm intended)
Now, this is going to get personal for me. As a Christian nothing gets me more irritated than someone who tries to justify their unwise actions by saying their faith tells them they should do something that is at best morally ambigious. Art Briles would love for you to believe that HE DID NOT NECESSARILY want to recruit those talented but criminal players. God did, and since Briles follows God, he has to recruit dope smokers, rapists, and general menaces to society to “save them.” Those same athletes also happen to win him a lot of Football games, but it’s all about saving the kid, right?
Briles has learned quite well that people can launder even the most dirty of intentions under the guise that their faith teaches them to do something morally repugnant or compromise their own faith’s true tenants. Now, should every kid with a checkered past not get a second shot? That is not what I am saying at all, but when you load your roster up with kids that have major problems that hurt others, and the reputation of your employer and your program, that falls on one person, the man that is the man making the decisions, and that man is Art Briles.
Now, I want to make this very clear. Baylor University is one of the best schools not only in Texas, but in the nation as a whole. I have many friends who attended Baylor and graduated from there as well and have even had close family go there as well. It is a fine school and they did the right thing by draining the swamp of corruption, and this is not the only program that needs to be looked at. The Administration may have done damage control too little and too late, and that is worse than outright lying a lot of times when you are dealing with the NCAA. Mark my words, the storm clouds have gathered and it is going to rain down hard on Baylor athletics one day in the not too distant future. They need to put the storm windows up, because the hurricane known as the NCAA is coming hard, I just hope it does not destroy their program as that would hurt a good school and hurt the Big 12 conference as well.
With Briles, I hope he learns a lesson and evaluates what is truly important in his life. There is an old Chinese proverb that says that everyone has a hand in their own undoing. I can think of many coaches who got the shaft under the guise of having to be fired because they allegely did something awful (Mike Leach, Mark Mangino, Bob Knight), when all they did was just discipline players in a very non PC way. None of those guys deserved to be fired but did not help their cause with certain things they did, giving their detractors ammunition to justify their termination. Briles is different, he dug his grave, ordered the coffin and gravestone, and wrote his own obituary. His actions lead me to assume he believed he would never get what was due to him, and he did.
Finally, I have to say this. I mentioned earlier in this piece that I am a Christian and Briles claims to be one as well. I cannot nor will not say based on these events and other things that he may or may have not done in the past that he is not a Christian, because only God knows the man’s heart, but I can tell you this for certain. Briles seems to have a faith in God, and a devout religious observance of winning football games. Taking a look at his background and pedigree, it is easy to see. He won as a high school player, he won as a high school coach, he won at a non FBS school, and he won in the Big 12. He wants to win and any coach who can turn the dumpster fire they had in Waco before he turned it around is obviously doing something right from a winning perspective, but getting back to the point I want to make is that I have no respect for a man who claims to hold fast to the teachings of The Bible and the teachings of Christ and whose works prove otherwise. Jesus himself said that “you will know them (True Follower of Christ) by their fruits,” and the fruit that Briles produced at Baylor might look good on the outside, but on the inside is rotten to it’s very core.
Just ask the people who have had a taste of it.