By Cameron Stuart | Radio Director
Earlier this week, the Baylor Line Foundation published an exclusive interview entitled “Art Briles Is Still Standing,” in which the former Baylor football head coach attempted to tell his side of the story regarding the scandal that got him fired. Needless to say, it’s not what we, as a student body, needed.
As soon as I saw this article pop up on my news feed, my eyes rolled. This is a scandal that just will not go away. I’m not saying the atrocities that some former Baylor football players did should be forgotten, but the enablers are the ones that keep bringing the Baylor name back into the news. Just when it seems the program and the university is moving forward, some puff piece like this comes up.
In the article, Briles tells author Craig Cunningham that what made him a good football coach was that he was “loyal and always trusted people” and that he “expected good out of people until they prove [Briles] wrong.” It makes me wonder, though, if he believed in the inherent good in a known sexual predator or if he just wanted to win football games. Where did he find the good in Sam Ukwuachu when Ukwuachu’s former head coach, Chris Petersen, told Briles not to bring him to Baylor because of his immoral behavior?
It seems the only “good” that Ukwuachu presented was the fact that he was a three-star recruit out of high school that Briles missed out on recruiting. The “good” was that he was a Freshman All-American at Boise State in 2012 and he fell right into Briles’ lap after his dismissal from Boise State. It sounds eerily like the same “good” that Shawn Oakman had as one of the most highly touted football recruits in the country in high school before getting kicked out of Penn State. Even with a criminal record, Oakman had enough “good” for Briles to pull him to Baylor, where he earned All-American status but whose sexual assault indictment was one of the many stories that led to Briles’ downfall.
After defending his own name, Briles sympathizes with his coaches and athletic staff saying, “I’m not sure many people have been through this like a lot of us have, not just me” in reference to his fellow coaches. This was the quote that sent the entire story off the deep end. Briles actually has the gall to victimize his former coaching staff, including his own son, which perpetuated a program with disgusting and, apparently, non-existent policing. They were the ones who “went through this” the worst? This quote proves, once again, that those who are lost amidst all the media coverage are the victims of sexual assault. Often times after crimes like these, it seems that victims struggle to live a normal life again and, in this case, have been criminally betrayed by their own alma mater. Yet, we are supposed to believe that the coaches are the ones we need to feel bad for.
The final pathetic reach we see in this story references the 2014 Big 12 championship. If you recall, Baylor and TCU were crowned conference co-champions, virtually preventing Baylor from partaking in the inaugural College Football Playoff. During the trophy presentation, Briles confronted Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby about his inability to make them the sole champions. Briles implied that his rocky relationship with Bowlsby following that confrontation severed his relationships with the conference and that without their support, his firing by Baylor became all the easier. Essentially, Briles said that because Bowlsby did not like him, he was fired. From his point of view, it was not the years of turning a blind eye to his own players’ criminal acts, but rather his relationship with the commissioner that got him fired.
Even with the former head football coach ignoring warnings about his transfers, sympathizing with his negligent coaches rather than victims of a crime, and blaming his firing on a lack of support from the Big 12 conference, there are still Baylor alumni that support him. The comment section under the online version of the story is sickening. Delusional Baylor fans fawn over Briles, including Baylor football legend Don Trull who calls Briles “the best thing that ever happened to Baylor football” and says the Baylor Regents are “a disgrace to the university forever.”
I think I speak for the majority of the student body when I say no, Mr. Trull, the people like you and the rest of the commenters who can push these sexual assaults — these life-altering crimes — aside for a couple of Big 12 Championships are a disgrace. Briles and his coaching staff are a disgrace. To me, it is the former Baylor president, athletic director and faculty that decided to tarnish this great university’s name for a couple of BCS bowl games that are a disgrace. We, as a university and proud Baylor Bears, are trying to move on. Mr. Briles, do us all a favor and go away forever. There’s no good in this relationship between Briles and Baylor anymore: Arrivederci.