May 30, 2023

COLUMN: Cancelling Art Briles is wrong

News broke on Monday afternoon that former Baylor head coach Art Briles would no longer be the offensive coordinator at Grambling State University, where he accepted the position just four days earlier under GSU head coach Hue Jackson. After some minor blowback from former players and a few blue check marks on social media, that’s all it took for Briles to call it quits on the new gig.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of your coaching staff at Grambling State University,” Briles said in a statement Sports Illustrated. “Unfortunately, I feel that my continued presence will be a distraction to you and your team, which is the last thing that I want. I have the upmost respect for the university and your players.”

I might be the only person on the Internet that is willing to defend and have the back of Art Briles. We all know what happened at Baylor was wrong. I am in no way defending or making light of what happened in Waco, Texas. Just hear me out.

Art Briles climbed the ladder in ways that you don’t see quite often. He coached high school football in Texas for over 20 years before landing his first college coaching position at Texas Tech in 2000 as the Red Raiders running backs coach. He then gained quick ascension in the world of college coaching and landed his first head coaching position at the University of Houston in 2003, where he would coach the Cougars before taking the same position at Baylor in 2008. There’s something to be admired about a coach who climbs the ladder this way. You don’t see high school coaches just take over in major college football the way that he did, outside of maybe Gus Malzahn. Art Briles showed us determination.

One of the things that made me sympathize for Coach Briles and helped me grow to like him, was when I found out that both of his parents were killed in a car accident while they were on their way to come and watch him play in his first college football game. I immediately had to respect a man who lost a loving mother and father so tragically at a young age, and still found his way to be successful. Most people, I would imagine, struggle to find motivation after a life changing experience like that. Art Briles showed us perseverance.

I’m not a counselor. I’m not an Athletics Director. I’m not a lot of things, but one thing I am is this: human. So are you. We are faulty by design. Are some mistakes and shortcomings bigger than others? You bet. Never forget that you have also needed forgiveness, too. Let me explain what forgiveness and second chances do, though. They allow you to positively move on. Both parties, both sides of the coin. You can both move on.

Coach Briles is deserving of a second chance not because he’s a great football coach, but because he is human. He’s admitted his sorrows, he’s paid his dues. It’s time to move on in a positive fashion and let this man coach football.

If the Athletic Director at Baylor during those days, Ian McCaw, can still have a job anywhere in the country without repercussions or blowback, then so can Art Briles. Many of the former staff, administrators and faculty still hold jobs elsewhere that were at Baylor. This is hypocrisy at its highest level and fundamentally makes zero sense. Only one person gets cancelled and punished for the rest of his life, even though countless individuals knew of the situations and did nothing?

National media, blue checks and activists, it’s time we do the right thing and leave Art Briles the hell alone. He will be pursued again by another employer and he will take another job. As mentioned before, he deserves to move on positively and prove to us that he’s matured and risen above his shortcomings at Baylor.



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