The Art Briles’ Re-Entry World Tour back into the football world is not going according to plan, for a variety of reasons.
No. 1 - The former Baylor football coach began this process too soon. He needed to vanish to his home at Horseshoe Bay for the full football season to distance himself from a scandal that cost him his job. Then Briles needed to find an Oprah-like interview where he was grilled and he could explain himself in the face of difficult questions.
No. 2 - This tour is not going well because we are talking about a guy who is simply a football coach and not a polished public speaker. He’s a ball coach. The end.
Nonetheless, Briles is back and he is touring NFL training camps. He was with the Dallas Cowboys last week to visit his former wide receiver, Terrance Williams.
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Briles met with the media in Oxnard last week (I just missed him by a couple of days), and he ducked out without saying anything too inflammatory.
Today he visited the nearby Houston Texans where he again met with the media and this time he stepped in a steaming pile of stupid.
“I’ve [coached] for 38 years, lived the right way 60 years of my life, never done anything illegal, immoral or unethical. I think at the end of the day, all that will show itself, and I’m excited about coaching again, I really am,” Briles told the reporters. “You know, if you lose your dog, all of a sudden you’re looking around hard for him. You’ll stay up late at night looking for him. I’ve lost my dog, my dog’s football, and I’m ready to go find him again.”
We are all guilty of doing something illegal or immoral or unethical at some point. Every single one of us. It’s simply a matter of degree.
Drop his resume and the reasons he was fired from Baylor. Now ask yourself if you believe a coach can turn one of the worst jobs in FBS college football over the last 70 years into a national power without doing something illegal, immoral or unethical.
In a word - no way in hell.
College football smells like dirty underwear and there is no way to win at a Baylor, Boise State, TCU, Kansas State or any other non-traditional power without pushing - and going over - the edge. The rest is semantics.
Briles can’t say anything that would implicate himself in the Baylor scandal for obvious legal reasons, but to suggest that he’s clean and free of error is offensive. He was fired for a reason.
What he needs to say is, “I made mistakes,” and then he adds, “If I could do it again, I would do a lot of things differently.”
When the follow up questions come about specific mistakes, he could offer the “I really don’t want to get into that” or some other escape line.
It’s admission with omission.
There are a great many people for whom any word Briles’ utters will leave them in disgust, but most of us are forgiving provided there is a degree of sincere contrition and accountability.
Briles has been telling people for the past month or so that he has every intention of returning to coaching in 2017. He deserves a second chance and there will be a team out there that will hire Art Briles.
My money is as an NFL offensive coordinator - think Cleveland Browns and RGIII.
Until then, if he insists on being visible this fall, he needs to have a better understanding of rhetoric.