It’s no great secret that Art Briles wants to coach college football again. He said so in July, about two months after he was fired by Baylor following an investigation into the football program’s shoddy handling of sexual assault complaints filed against the Bears players:
Presumably, we’ll get to see Briles say so again on Saturday morning when his sit-down with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi — his first big-time national interview since his firing — airs on the network’s “College Gameday” preview show. But for now, ESPN is only giving us the part of the conversation where Briles says he’s sorry for everything that happened at Baylor.
“I made mistakes. I did wrong, but I’m not doing this trying to make myself feel better for apologizing,” Briles told Rinaldi. “I understand I made some mistakes. There was some bad things that went on under my watch. I was the captain of this ship. The captain of the ship goes down with it.
“So, I understand that I made some mistakes, and for that I’m sorry. But I’m not trying to plead for people’s sympathy. I’m just stating that, ‘Hey, I made some mistakes. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m gonna learn. I’m gonna do better.”
Briles, 60, recently hired Jimmy Sexton as his agent, a man with high-wattage clients such as Alabama’s Nick Saban, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, USC’s Clay Helton and Georgia’s Kirby Smart. If Briles wants to coach again, that’s a good first step.
But he’ll have to overcome the stigma of being a coach who not only brought in players who already had histories of off-field problems — two such players, Sam Ukwuachu and Shawn Oakman, were accused of sexual assault after they arrived at Baylor — but also of running a program that was perceived to be “above the rules,” as found by the investigation conducted by a Philadelphia law firm into Baylor’s football program.
“Football coaches and staff took affirmative steps to maintain internal control over discipline of players and to actively divert cases from the student conduct or criminal processes,” a summary of the report read. “In some cases, football coaches and staff had inappropriate involvement in disciplinary and criminal matters or engaged in improper conduct that reinforced an overall perception that football was above the rules and that there was no culture of accountability for misconduct.”