The Grambling State Tigers football program has made a very controversial hire. Looking to spruce up a dormant offense, first-year head coach Hue Jackson recently hired former Baylor head football coach Art Briles.
It’s no secret that Briles is an offensive savant, but his tenure at Baylor didn’t end well at all. Briles was fired from the Waco, Texas, school in 2016 after an investigation proved that his program covered up a bevy of sexual assault allegations. Briles hasn’t coached anywhere on the collegiate level since.
Grambling State is reportedly targeting Art Briles as the program‘s next offensive coordinator https://t.co/2z1Bq72GgU
— SI College Football (@si_ncaafb) February 14, 2022
Multiple Sports Figures Question The Hire
The hiring also sent off a series of reactions across the sports world. First there was former Grambling quarterback and head coach Doug Williams, who told the Washington Post the following:
“I don’t know Art Briles; I’ve never met him in my life. But the situation, nobody else hired him for whatever reason. I don’t know why Grambling State had to go be the one to hire him, so I’m not a fan at all.”
Williams is no longer supporting the program with Briles as offensive coordinator.
In a Washington Post story on Grambling State's hiring of Art Briles, the legendary Doug Williams was asked whether he would continue to support the program.
Williams said, “Oh, no. I can’t do that. No, no, no. If I support them, I condone it.”
— Craig Haley (@CraigHaley) February 25, 2022
Williams isn’t the only one who took offense to the hiring. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN’s “First Take” talked about it in a segment on Friday.
“Let me be very, very clear. This is about the hiring of Art Briles. This is not about Hue Jackson as a person. This is not about Hue Jackson as a coach. This is not about Hue Jackson as a human being. This does not bring into question anything he said about Haslem, or the Browns, or anybody else. This is specifically regarding Art Briles.”
Smith continued to rip the hiring.
“And, yes, I will call Hue Jackson, because, guess what? I find this decision to be egregious, period. There’s a better decision you could’ve made for offensive coordinator for Grambling State that this one. Doug Williams says it. Most people, including Keyshawn were talking about it this morning. Most people are going to say that. That’s how we feel. This is about the hire.”
SAS still wasn’t done.
“Let’s not conflict things. Let’s not confuse the issues. Let’s not try to be evasive. You hired a man who oversaw a program writhed with sexual assault perpetrators. The law has stated that. We’ve got people who are in prison because of it. As a result, nobody touched this man for six years for a reason.
“And if he’s gonna land someplace, it shouldn’t be at a historically Black college and university where you have a lot of the players at Baylor, if not all of them, who were being accused of it, who happened to be Black. … Clearly, him being a leader of young Black men is highly questionable. That’s who you hired, Hue Jackson?
This is wildly disappointing. Art Briles should not be working on a college campus. https://t.co/BWk5ABjv0v
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) February 24, 2022
Grambling State Vetted Briles: Vetting Doesn’t Change Anything
Briles went 65-37 in eight seasons, plus back-to-back Big 12 titles in 2013-14. His name was mentioned for the job about 10-11 days ago as a possible hire under Jackson. His track record is tarnished, so there’s no way vetting him changes any of that. So as SAS said over and over in his truthful rant, this hiring is utterly despicable. Briles shouldn’t be permitted to be near any program ever again after what transpired under his watch at Baylor.
Art Briles, who was fired as Baylor's HC in 2016 following the university's investigation into campus-wide allegations of sexual assault, has been hired as Grambling State's OC, an athletics department spokesman confirmed to ESPN. https://t.co/2JvfCZTa3b
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) February 24, 2022
Grambling’s Lack of Success In 2021 Played A Role, As Did Jackson State’s Success Under Deion Sanders:
In 2021, GSU limped to a 4-7 record overall and 3-5 in the SWAC. Their offense was downright putrid and thoroughly dominated by their opponents in just about every statistical category.
The Tigers averaged just 17 points, while their opponents averaged nearly 28 points. They had a grand total of 144 first downs, which is roughly 14 a game, but 19 of those came via accepted penalties. That’s not an offense conducive to winning, but isn’t Hue Jackson an offensive-minded coach? That’s his calling card, so that makes the Briles hire even more awkward.
Grambling State Announces 2022 Football Schedule https://t.co/cN5UEgWRWC
— GSU_Tigers (@GSU_TIGERS) January 26, 2022
Keeping Up With The Sanderses
The emergence of Deion Sanders at SWAC rival JSU may have played a role in this move. Sanders has the mojo after winning the SWAC in his first full season, and then landing the nation’s top recruit, plus numerous other top recruits and transfers. JSU is putting a lot of pressure on other conference schools to make a big splash and keep up.
To add insult to injury, Sanders added Brett Bartolone as offensive coordinator. Bartolone just helped lead the Nevada offense to nearly 40 points a game and an 8-5 record while also developing quarterback Carson Strong into a possible first or second-round draft pick.
— LIGHT ON S🅿️ORTS (@LightOnSports) January 2, 2022
Briles is a brilliant offensive mind who runs a veer and shoot offense designed to use every dimension of the field and get the ball to playmakers in space. It helped Robert Griffin III win the Heisman in 2012, and numerous wide receivers became pros, most notably, the talented but troubled Josh Gordon. Recruits love to play in schemes that allow multiple players to be featured, and that’s another reason for this hire. It will attract more top-level talent to Grambling State.
After a career year in 2011, Baylor went 8-5 the following year and then bounced back in 2013 with an 11-2 record and Briles was given a contract extension.
But then things started to unravel, quietly and, as we later would learn, secretly.
First the scandal involving Boise State transfer, Sam Ukwuachu, erupted, where Ukwuachu was charged with sexual assault of a soccer player at the university before he even played a down for the Bears. The University remained silent on the issue at first, until Ukwuachu was found guilty of the charges. Then the lid started to come off, with incidents involving, and allegations against, players on the team in regard to sexual assault and violence.
Heads flew and jobs were lost, including Briles’.
Sometimes, to take your program to the next level, unpopular decisions have to be made. After the smoke clears and the news cycle expires, Briles will get every opportunity to prove that Jackson made the right choice. A choice that some people close to the program believe should have never been made.
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