Art Briles: Grambling State message loud and clear with hire

Hue Jackson wanted to hire Art Briles, and he did. It’s a simple answer to a complicated situation.

Jackson was allowed to hire Briles as offensive coordinator at Grambling State — but make no mistake, there are several people who had to accept that on both the athletic side and the college side. The working relationship between Briles and Jackson dates back to at least 2016, when Jackson, then head coach of the Cleveland Browns, brought in Briles during training camp and the regular season as a guest coach just months after the Briles’ dismissal by Baylor following an investigation into his and the school’s handling of a number of sexual assault allegations. Whenever Jackson decides to speak publicly about his decision to hire Briles, you’ll no doubt hear the typical brushing under the rug of Briles’ transgressions. Jackson already did in 2016, when he said of inviting Briles, “We were all bowled over, myself included” at the Cleveland Plain Dealership.

Jackson’s boss, Athletic director Trayveon Scott, told ESPN in part about Briles, “I think the guy just wants to coach and manage men.” But whatever contrition Briles may say in the wake of this hiring doesn’t change the fact that the last time he led men, he presided over a culture where rampant sexual violence against women, including the trial of a former student alleging at least 52 acts of rape committed by 31 footballers from 2011 to 2014. And yet he is again allowed to manage men.

An NCAA investigation into the Baylor scandal cleared Briles of violations of the organization’s bylaws, but the report offered a scathing assessment of the coach’s failures:

“In each instance, when the head coach received information from a staff member regarding potential criminal conduct by a football student-athlete, he did not report the information and did not personally researched the issue. He generally relied on the information provided to him by his associates and also leaned on them to solve problems. His uninquisitive attitude towards potential criminal conduct by his student-athletes deeply troubled the panel.”

“The head coach failed to meet the most basic expectations of how a person should respond to the type of conduct at issue in this case. Further, as a campus leader, the head coach is held to an even higher standard He failed completely However, there is no connection between this conduct and NCAA Level I or II violations.

Grambling State is aware of the above – it takes at most two Google searches to find this information. Scott told ESPN he spent 10 days checking Briles. The university knows this, but those in power whose opinions outweigh any dissent in the ranks simply don’t care.

The school offered no explanation or defense for hiring Briles beyond confirming the reports. and apparently had no intention of beyond a meeting between Briles and a journalist from local television. Sports Illustrated contacted Grambling chairman Rick Gallot on Thursday to ask: ‘How does Grambling plan to ensure that female students will be safe on campus with football players that Art Briles will recruit?’ He hasn’t answered yet.

It helps to understand how Grambling sees himself in the larger landscape of HBCU football. Simply put: Grambling is the bully. With 15 black national titles, including a Celebration Bowl win, and 26 total SWAC titles, the Tigers are the barometer. It’s the program of Eddie Robinson, the legendary coach who won 408 games (the third most NCAA coaches in sports history) and Doug Williams (the first Super Bowl-winning QB Black, who also coached Grambling to a Black National title and multiple SWAC crowns). Few programs have a prouder history that spans decades of success, though the team has been mediocre since its 2017 Celebration Bowl spot.

In Jackson, who was hired in December, Grambling embarked on his own deionization. You can say what you want about how Sanders has conducted his business, but the results have been clear since the 11–2 season, the Celebration Bowl berth and the signing of the nation’s No. 1 rookie, Travis Hunter, just under the nose of the State of Florida. . A celebrity coach at Jackson who comes with panache and, above all, NIL connections to help level the playing field in the race for player acquisitions is, on the face of it, a plan replicable by other schools. Jackson comes to the NFL in good faith and brings his own connections to it as he is represented by Roc Nation Sports, the agency founded by Jay-Z that is making its own inroads into the NIL space.

With Briles calling the offense, the Tigers will likely score a lot of points and maybe win a lot of games. If he’s lucky, Briles might be able to use an HBCU as a reputation flusher to get back to FBS level in a few years. It’s all part of a Faustian bargain that Grambling management did the math on and decided it was worth it.

More college football coverage:

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