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June 17, 2019

Art Briles gets his first job coaching football in United States since Baylor firing

May 25, 2019

Art Briles, who was fired by Baylor in 2016 for his handling of sexual assault cases involving his players, was hired as the head football coach at a Texas high school. The three-year anniversary of Briles’ firing from Baylor is Sunday.

Mount Vernon, an East Texas high school 100 miles east of Dallas, signed Briles to a two-year contract, according to a statement from district superintendent Jason McCullough.

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Art Briles has returned to Texas sidelines. (Tony Gutierrez / AP)

The 63-year-old Briles had been unable to land a coaching job in the United States since leaving Baylor in disgrace. Southern Miss attempted to hire Briles as its offensive coordinator earlier this year before university leadership blocked the hire. A Canadian team hired Briles as an assistant coach in 2017, but retracted the offer after a day when the backlash grew too great. Briles did stick as the head coach for an Italian team, where he worked in the 2018 season.

In the Mount Vernon announcement, McCullough wrote that, “We are pleased to welcome Coach Briles back home to Texas. He brings with him a wealth of not only football experience but also life experience. He is passionate about investing in the lives of young people and helping them to succeed both on the field and in life. After a thorough due diligence process and several earnest conversations, we believe our students will benefit greatly from his skills and experience.”

Briles, meanwhile, said that “I began my coaching career in the Friday night lights of Texas high school football, and I’m looking forward to returning to my roots. I have learned many lessons during my time as a coach. Some lessons are born out of success and others out of failure.” Neither man mentioned Baylor.

Briles has never really apologized for his time at Baylor. A civil lawsuit settled in September 2017 alleged that 30 Baylor football players committed 52 rapes in a four-year period from 2011 to 2014.

His son, Kendal, coached with him at Baylor and is now the offensive coordinator at Florida State. That same lawsuit alleges that Kendal Briles told a recruit “Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players.”

Baylor’s own internal investigation covered 17 women “who reported sexual or domestic assaults involving 19 players, including four alleged gang rapes.”

When Briles was hired by Guelfi Firenze last year, the coach said that “I’m not sure I was not fired for Baylor’s PR purposes. I can’t explain why they would give me a substantial amount of money or pay out a lot of other employees.” (Baylor paid Briles $18 million when it fired him.)

Well before a successful tenure at Baylor that included a Heisman Trophy for Robert Griffin III and Big 12 titles in 2013 and 2014, Briles was a Texas high school football legend. In a 20-year career before jumping to college in 1999, he won four Texas state championships and is widely credited with popularizing elements of the spread offense.

Briles had been seeking a college job for the last three years, but the NCAA is still investigating Baylor, which perhaps scared schools off. He was 99-65 over 13 years as a head coach at Baylor and Houston, and 166-46 in 16 years as a high school head coach.

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