In May 2016, Baylor fired its head football coach Art Briles for his role in the school’s sexual assault scandal. Now, 15 months later, he’s getting a second chance at coaching.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League announced on Monday that they signed Briles as their new assistant head coach for offense. In his eight years at Baylor’s helm, Briles’ spread offenses were consistently some of the most dangerous in the sport.
The same, unfortunately, could be said of Baylor’s campus during that same period. In January, a 2014 graduate of the school filed a lawsuit that encompasses the extent of the damage. The woman, under the pseudonym Elizabeth Doe, alleged that 31 different football players committed 52 acts of rape during a four-year period from 2011 to 2014.
Briles, of course, was in charge of the program during those years, leading the Bears to unprecedented levels of success. He coached quarterback Robert Griffin III to the 2011 Heisman Trophy, the first in school history. Then in 2013 and 2014, Briles led his team to consecutive Big 12 conference titles, which had only happened once previously in conference history.
But no amount of success could outweigh what was going on in Waco behind closed doors. While select players on the team were accused and tried for sexual assault before 2016, it wasn’t until then that the deception and neglect from university officials, including Briles, became widely known.
Perhaps one of the most damning things to be revealed was that Briles and Baylor president Ken Starr, who was demoted before eventually resigning later in May 2016, had ignored notices from victims about their sexual assaults and not acted.
Since his firing, Briles has essentially been blackballed from college football. While he was reportedly under consideration for the vacant offensive coordinator position at Auburn, negative attention kept the school from hiring him. When it was reported earlier in August that Briles was serving as an unofficial advisor to Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin, Kiffin had to publicly distance himself from Briles to quiet the backlash.
Naturally then, when the Tiger-Cats made their announcement on Monday, social media lashed out.
In response to the backlash, Drew Edwards of 3 Down Nation spoke to Tiger-Cats CEO Scott Mitchell about the decision to hire Briles.
“Clearly, some serious mistakes were made along the way,” Mitchell said, “but we feel strongly that people deserve second chances and that’s what we’ve decided to do with Art Briles.”