One of the most successful, and polarizing, coaches in the history of Texas football can’t get a job in North America, and he’s likely headed over the pond to be around football.
Art Briles has never lived outside of Texas, and the former Baylor coach is, according to sources, “very interested” in coaching an American football team in Italy.
Not Italy, Texas; Florence, Italy.
This would be the equivalent of a low level junior college.
Sources indicate a deal is in the works.
The locale known as the home to the statue of David, the Ponte Vecchio, Boboli Gardens and plenty of red wine also has a football team.
Briles should take the job. Immediately. He will turn 63 in December. His window to coach shrinks daily. This job is exactly the type of penance and “small start” schools can sell when it wants to consider him as a candidate when positions open in December, because there will be interest.
While Baylor was justified in its decision to fire Briles for his role in the rape saga that has shadowed the school for years, how it was all handled was unnecessary and malicious.
In recent weeks a sworn deposition from former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw, and my interview with former Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, offer other views that the issues of addressing sexual assault properly was a Baylor problem and not just a Baylor football problem.
Sources said Briles had discussions with Waco High School about its vacancy that was recently filled. The high school level was not his preference, but he wants to coach.
The last time he coached was Baylor’s win over North Carolina in the Athletic Bowl on Dec. 29, 2015. Baylor fired him in May 2016; other than a few visits to NFL camps, he has mostly lived in seclusion with his wife at their home in Horseshoe Bay near Austin.
Per the terms of his buyout, Briles was paid $17.9 million; that figure comes from Baylor’s 990 IRS form that was filed in 2017.
The previous figures of Briles’ buyout began at $5 million; then another reported figure was $15 million. Per the IRS form, it was just under $18 million.
Sources said when Briles was fired that he expected to land another job within a few months. So did Baylor. Baylor originally put in the buyout agreement that he could not take another job in Texas, or in the Big 12. Briles rejected that stipulation, but it did not matter.
No one will touch him not just in Texas, but in North America.
Purdue was interested. Texas Tech reached out to Baylor officials about hiring Briles as an assistant, but that died. Houston released a statement that said the former UH coach was not a candidate after Tom Herman left.
A Canadian football team hired Briles to be an assistant in the summer of 2017 for less than one day before it severed ties.
Briles was invited to speak at the American Football Coaches’ Association convention earlier this year, but Baylor officials politely leaned on the organization to ask him not to show. The school is desperate to put this whole saga behind it, and it feels like Briles’ talking about his tenure at all will extend the negative publicity.
Baylor is right. Whenever Briles does an extensive interview, it’s going to make Baylor look bad. Sources have indicated he’s been in discussion with various outlets about doing just that. He should.
He has something to say on this.
As the head coach, however, Briles is responsible for his team. The school was justified, and within its right, to remove him.
To single him out when so many people were responsible was also deliberate, calculated and vicious.
Would I have fired him? You are talking about the one person most responsible for Baylor’s launch to national relevance in the modern era. If there was a reason not to fire him, you find it and retain that employee.
He was the face of a program that had some horrendously criminal behaviors on his watch; even his most passionate defenders understand why Baylor fired him.
A high-ranking member of the Baylor Board of Regents told me that the program did have discipline problems under Briles, but that he did not think it should have fired him.
“I didn’t agree with the decision, but I support it,” he said.
What Briles’ defenders cannot comprehend is the deliberate effort on the part of the university to deep fry him.
Would I hire him? After a “go away” period of more than two years and a low-level job coaching football in Florence, Italy? Yes.
Everyone else involved in this whole thing has moved on and landed other jobs within their respective professions. If they desired.
The one who has not is Briles.
He should go to Italy.