Art Briles, the former head coach of the Baylor Bears, is back in the coaching game, but he has to leave the country in order to do it. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL have announced the disgraced Briles will join the staff led by June Jones as an offensive assistant head coach.
As you would expect, the press release announcing the addition of Briles as an offensive assistant coach hits on all the positives during Briles’ run as a college head coach at Baylor and Houston before that.
In eight seasons at Baylor, Briles’ list of accomplishments is headlined by back-to-back Big 12 Championships (2013-14), marking only the second such achievement in league history and first since the University of Oklahoma (2006-08). Baylor’s consecutive New Year’s Day bowl berths were also a first in school history. The native of Rule, Texas, was recognized as a finalist for the 2014 Coach of the Year honours by the Bobby Dodd Trophy and Eddie Robinson Award, and was named the 2014 Big 12 Coach of the Year by the Waco Tribune-Herald. He also earned 2013 Big 12 Coach of the Year honours from the league coaches (Chuck Neinas Award) as well as the Associated Press and Sporting News.
Prior to his tenure at Baylor, Briles spent five years at the University of Houston, inheriting a Cougars team that was only two years removed from a winless season (0-11). He led Houston to a 34-28 record and appeared in four bowl games over that span, and currently ranks third in school history in all-time wins as a head coach. In 2006, Briles earned Conference USA and Sportexe Division I-A National Coach of the Year honours after leading the Cougars to a Conference USA title, an appearance in the Liberty Bowl and the team’s first 10-win season since 1990. He was also named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award in 2006.
Noticeably absent from the press release? The reason Briles was fired by Baylor. Briles was the head coach of the program when the football program was rocked by a scandal linked to sexual assault by football players, and a complete lack of action taken by the football staff to prevent, and in some cases shield it from the public.
There is no question that Briles returning to coaching would be a question of “when” and “where” rather than “if” in spite of Briles’ toxicity. Coaches will always find a job somewhere and this demonstrates that nothing else will matter in the end. Briles’ return to coaching was always suspected to be by way of an offensive cooridnator role, and this may be the beginning of the road back to other jobs now that the door has officially been opened. How much about the Baylor scandal is known in Hamilton and Canada is likely less prevalent than in the United States, although Jones and the Tiger-Cats will be forced to address this controversial hire at some point soon.
How they address it will be telling.