Let the spinning commence in earnest.
Around seven p.m. ET this past Friday, just as the long Memorial Day weekend was kicking off, Mount Vernon High School in Texas offered up the mother of all pre-holiday news dumps by announcing that its Board of Trustees had approved a two-year contract for the disgraced Art Briles to serve as the program’s head football coach. Suffice to say, the reaction to the disgraced former college head coach’s hiring was swift and deafening, with many questioning how a man with Briles’ past — and who is still considered a pariah at the collegiate level — could be placed in charge of “coaching young boys.”
Tuesday, the superintendent of the school district that unanimously hired attempted to defend the move.
“We believe in our community, we believe in our kids and we believe in the parents that we have,” Jason McCullough, who made sure to note in a statement that he has “a daughter and two granddaughters,” told multiple media outlets. “We believe in the process that we went through, that we have vetted this person. We vetted Coach Briles to the best of our ability.
“We really believe the process we went through is one that our community would be proud of and one that we know we did our job with.”
“Of course when we go out on Friday nights we want our team to do the best that they can do and hopefully come out with a win, but I can tell you as superintendent of schools, my priority was to find a coach who can come in and who is a man of faith, morals, integrity and character, and our due diligence, from the people that know him, that’s the man we expect to come in,” McCullough added.
Briles was fired by Baylor in May of 2016 amidst a sexual assault scandal involving his Bears football program. In August of 2017, the disgraced coach was hired by a CFL team; a couple of hours later, after the hiring was denounced by fans and sponsors, the organization announced that Briles would no longer be joining the team. Southern Miss head coach Jay Hopson wanted to hire Briles as offensive coordinator before a public backlash prompted the school to back away from the move, which didn’t sit well with the man who wanted to bring Briles to the Conference USA program.
In late January of 2017, damning details in one of the handfuls of lawsuits facing Baylor University emerged, with that suit alleging that 31 Bears football players had committed 52 acts of rape over a period of four years beginning in 2011.
Not long after, a legal filing connected to the libel lawsuit filed by a former BU football staffer produced emails and text messages that painted a picture of the former Bears head coach and/or his assistants as unrestrained rogue elements concerned with nothing more than the image of the football program off the field and its performance on it. The details in a damning document dump included allegations that Briles attempted to circumvent BU’s “judicial affairs folks” when it came to one player’s arrest… and on Briles asking, in response to one of his players brandishing a gun on a female, “she reporting [it] to authorities?”… and asking “she a stripper?” when told one of his players expected a little something extra from a female masseuse… and stating in a text “we need to know who [the] supervisor is and get him to alert us first” in response to a player who was arrested on a drug charge because the apartment superintendent called the police.
In reference to a woman who alleged she was gang-raped by several Bears football players, Briles allegedly responded, “those are some bad dudes. Why was she around those guys?”
“Hindsight is a blessing and a curse. I’ve always been about trying to be fair and honest with everyone I came into contact with,” Briles said in July of last year on his unceremonious and controversial ouster from the Bears. “The thing that hurts me as much as anything [was] the culture at Baylor at the time; I don’t think victims, I know they didn’t feel comfortable going to report assaults that took place. I don’t think they were represented and taken care of with the level that needed to be handled with. That’s something that through all of this and as time goes will become more clear.
“Not only me but many of us felt betrayed because we were not privy to the information that was available in a way we wanted to respond. … With the way things are going, with some of the transparency starting to take place, I am confident the truth will come out. It’s not just important for me.”
In August of last year, Briles was named as the head coach of the Guelfi Firenze American Football team in Florence, Italy. That was his first coaching job at any level since his ouster in Waco.