Kliff Kingsbury’s team has lost their last three games in painful fashion. A one score loss on the road to a team believed inferior, a homecoming embarrassment, and a record setting offensive performance ending in a one score loss that captured Texas Tech in a microcosm.
Fans and media as a result have spoken about a head coaching change. The name on many of their keyboards is Art Briles, the former Baylor head coach.
This brings up a whole host of issues that I’ll address one at a time. Briles’ tenure at Baylor for all its glory ended poorly, to put it mildly. Art Briles spent two years as an undergraduate at Texas Tech and earned his degree from the school in 1979.
In 1999 Briles took his first collegiate coaching job under Mike Leach at Texas Tech as the running backs coach. Wes Welker was the first player he recruited and in 2003 Briles left Lubbock to be the head coach at the University of Houston.
These ties and Briles’ extreme success (which I’ll get to later) are the prime reasons for Texas Tech to consider hiring Art as their next head coach. Now let’s flip the script.
Whether Art Briles is completely innocent or completely guilty of all these accusations, Tech will have to deal with the titanic media storm that will come with him. Look at what Baylor is dealing with now and imagine that happening to Texas Tech.
This school will endure that and more because they brought that kind of dysfunction to their school knowingly, which might make it worse than the circus surrounding Baylor now.
The wake of this scandal ended with the firing of the school’s president, athletic director, and the football coach. Their consequences could happen to Texas Tech. Is this school and this fan base willing to risk that? I’m not sure they are.
Whether these changes were simply cosmetic for the Board of Regents to save their own skin, I’m certain we’ll never truly know. What we do know, according to ESPN’s Outside the Lines is that when two different students reported being raped to the school, they were told that Briles already knew about previous allegations of the same ilk against those players.
One of those victims sent an email to the school president, athletic director, and Art Briles with the subject “I was raped at Baylor” and received no response from those parties. The victims were handled by being given academic assistance and some counseling but ultimately being encouraged not to press charges.
Earlier this month two more women joined the Title IX lawsuit being filed against Baylor University and coach Art Briles bringing the total number of plaintiffs to eight.
One of the initial plaintiffs, Jasmine Hernandez, told OTL that Briles was named in the suit because he was aware of Tevin Elliott’s previous allegations but wouldn’t address them unless he was convicted.
A third ex Baylor player is closing in on a trial for allegations of this nature. This would be the third Baylor player in four years with the other two being convicted.
Baylor alumni and fans are more forgiving of their head coach than their administrators were. I spoke with Drew Mills who graduated in 2015, about his thoughts on the Bears last coach.
"There is a lot of justified hatred at everyone involved in this offseasons scandal. Most of it has gone to Briles because of the nature of college football,” Mills said. “With the knowledge available, most of it should be at the regents/admin and a good chunk at Starr: Briles made mistakes, but he shouldn’t have been in the position to make them."
His sentiments were more common than I initially assumed. Phyllis Leudke, a junior at Baylor, believes Mills’ thoughts on the issue is widespread.
“We’re seeing the negative aspects of ‘getting the job done using all means necessary,’ but generally on campus (even after some of the allegations) he was still respected,” Leudke said.
From an outside perspective it’s hard to see how anyone could hold Briles blameless in this. The man comes across as inherently stubborn, believing he did nothing wrong. Briles comes off like believed it was the fault of a broken system and he did the best he could.
He feigned extreme ignorance as the allegations unfurled. At best case scenario he’s completely blind to the true nature of his program and clueless as a six-year-old attempting to read the iTunes terms and conditions. At worst he’s a compulsive liar who helped cover up damning allegations in order to win football games. In this case, like most, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
The Pepper Hamilton law firm investigated Baylor University following this scandal and the school released their suggestions. One of the firm’s suggestions is listed below:
These suggestions later speak on the lack of accountability and communication in regards to how claims of sexual assault are handled. In addition they bring up the need for a clear hierarchy in reporting and addressing these claims.
Those things were under Briles’ control at Baylor and that part of the blame falls heavily on him. His stubbornness in changing how he confronts issues of his nature might be the most condemning thing about him. If he won’t change what caused him trouble at Baylor, how could a school trust he wouldn’t do the exact same thing?
One reason to believe things could change at a new school is that Texas Tech is not a private school. Tech does not have the religious standards to which Baylor holds its students. Some of those might have played a part in creating the culture found at Baylor.
Recent Baylor graduate Shehan Jeyarajah explained some of those policies as well as their possible results when we spoke.
“Baylor is obviously a baptist school, and the ultra conservative response to addressing sexual assault is to act like that doesn't happen on our campus,” Jeyarajah said. “You can't address safe sex and consent when you refuse to acknowledge the existence of sex on a college campus.”
Denial is not a defensible strategy for dealing with rape on campus. Girls who report might have to face consequences for drinking since it is against the Baylor Doctrine. There is nothing set up to protect rape victims from those consequences, thus discouraging them from reporting it.
Docs/sources indicate Baylor's a university AND athletics problem. At least 17 women have accused FB players of assault/violence since 09 https://t.co/6vr75jcpWE— Paula Lavigne (@pinepaula) October 4, 2016
Issues like that wouldn’t arise at Texas Tech but the lack of communication and openness in the program likely would under Briles as a head coach.
Beyond this mess Art Briles was a good football coach. He led Baylor to 10 wins in four of his eight seasons, a feat accomplished only once in the 105 years before Briles took over.
Explosive offense is the cornerstone upon which Briles’ success was founded. Why would Texas Tech need more offense? If Tech wants to hire someone, they should look into Phil Bennett, Baylor’s defensive coordinator to replace David Gibbs.
Texas Tech has the most brilliant offensive mind in college football manning the helm at the moment, and he’s signed through 2020. They have a coach who is committed to running a program the right way and not tolerating players who can’t follow the rules, regardless of how talented they may be.
Kliff Kingsbury young, dynamic, and he is committed to winning at Texas Tech. He isn’t about to leave and Kyle Jacobson already told you why Tech shouldn’t fire him. Coach’s dedication to this school should be rewarded by fans reciprocating with dedication to him. Myopic views of program success often distract from future success.
Lastly if Texas Tech is truly considering hiring Art Briles, they must consider the message it would send to their students and alumni. In the wake of the scandal, recent Baylor graduate Ashton Brooke told me the message she felt the school sent.
“I felt like the university couldn’t have cared less about the students and only wanted to build their brand and keep their name clean” Brooke said.
Texas Tech might be better equipped to handle something like what happened at Baylor, but hiring Art Briles would send an equally disheartening message that the school values football success over the safety of their students.
I’m proud to be a Red Raider. From my first day as a prospective student, Texas Tech showed me how they value students as individuals, not as statistics. Hiring Briles as head coach would do irreparable damage to that perception for so many students, parents, and alumni.
Art Briles may be a sinner or he might be a football saint. Either way I don’t want him coaching at my school. Please do the right thing, Kirby Hocutt. Don’t hire Art Briles.