If former Baylor coach Art Briles has any hope of landing another job as a college football coach, an opening was just created where he could realistically land.
Liberty University coach Turner Gill, who graduated from Arlington Heights and was also the head coach at Buffalo and Kansas, announced on Monday he is retiring immediately.
Gill announced the decision based solely on the health of his wife, who was diagnosed with a heart condition in 2016.
Liberty’s athletic director is Ian McCaw, who was the Baylor AD from 2003 to 2016. McCaw hired Briles to be Baylor’s football coach in 2005.
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Both men worked together and had a good relationship throughout their shared tenure in Waco. They also shared the distinction as being the face of the athletic department and the football program that was embroiled in a series of sexual assault allegations against members of the football team.
McCaw resigned as AD from Baylor in June of 2016, shortly after the school announced its intent to fire Briles.
McCaw has only publicly spoken about his exit and tenure at Baylor once, which was under oath this fall as witness in one of the Jane Doe cases against the university. He was critical of the Board of Regents for its handling of the allegations, among other things.
McCaw was hired as Liberty’s AD in Nov. of 2016. Both McCaw and Briles maintained a good relationship after they each left Baylor.
Since accepting a buyout from Baylor, Briles’ name has mostly been mud. He accepted a job as an offensive coordinator for a CFL team in the summer of 2017, but that lasted not even one day as the league terminated his employment after intense criticism.
Briles accepted a job as a head coach for a team in Florence, Italy, but they will not begin play until the spring of 2019. It is no secret his preference is to coach in college again, and his contract allows him to do that if necessary.
Even though Baylor has since written a letter essentially exonerating Briles, so much damage has already been done to his reputation that it appears to be too late. People know a few headlines, maybe six or seven paragraphs, and minds have been made up, and eternal opinions formed.
To learn the nuance of this story of requires time; time people don’t have, or care to invest.
In the minds of many, Art Briles is Coach Rape, who fostered a culture of sexual assault. Both are wrong, and insulting.
When I wrote last week that Texas Tech should fill the head coach vacancy created by the firing of Kliff Kingsbury with Briles, the reaction on social media was ... full of four letter words. None of those words were “Love,” but plenty of them started with the letter F.
Tech AD Kirby Hoccutt never considered Briles, and hired Matt Wells of Utah State.
As much of a problem as that would be for Liberty, or any school that may want to hire Briles, the other issue is the NCAA.
In the fall, the NCAA sent Baylor a notice of allegations to Baylor after its investigation was over; Briles was named. Sources said the NCAA indicated to Baylor that the infractions it found on Briles do not directly relate to sexual assault allegations against members of his team, but other potential violations.
Baylor is expected to respond to these allegations this month.
A potential NCAA show cause penalty on the football coach could prevent Liberty, or any school, from considering what would already be a risky announcement.
Both Baylor and Briles, independent of each other, may ultimately appeal any penalty by the NCAA.
Liberty is a private, Christian-affiliated school in Lynchburg, Va. The school’s football program had previously played at the FCS level until last season when it made the jump to the FBS. Playing as an independent, the Flames finished 6-6 in 2018.