This is a weird article to write because we have a head football coach that I genuinely like. I don’t know a person that has a problem with Mark Stoops personally. He has always been gracious to the media and fans and really hasn’t made any PR blunders that I know of. He probably got the fans as excited for UK football as any coach in recent memory. But facts are facts. All that excitement makes the results on the field that much more disappointing. I’m not a football expert and most of you could say the same, but I think the talent looks better than most any team Rich Brooks had. Certainly light years ahead of what Joker Phillips had. But they just don’t perform and that is mostly on Stoops. There just are not positives in the program right now and you can feel the negativity. Which is why most people have a sense if inevitability that the Stoops tenure is not going to end well, whether it be this year or next.
But I don’t think any more analysis of the current state of the program needs to happen. If Mark Stoops is on an inevitable path, it’s only natural to think about what’s next. If Stoops leaves, his mark on the program ends there. He will get another job and he moves on. We’re stuck with this team so I don’t think it’s absurd to talk about who might be next. And this week there has been serious chatter about who UK might look at. I know I’ve heard it on the radio show a bunch and I’ve seen it on social media and message boards since the final gun against Southern Miss.
And there is one name that raises the hair on my neck more than any other: ART BRILES. For those who don’t know sports outside of this state, Briles is the former coach of Baylor University. He took that program from the absolute depths of college football to BCS bowls and conference championships. From a football perspective, Briles is an elite talent.
But did you see that I called him FORMER Baylor football coach? He’s a former football coach because he was fired in the offseason. And why? A little timeline:
August 17-20, 2015: Reports come out a current Baylor football player had been indicted for sexual assault on June (2 months earlier). Despite this, the player in question was allowed to continue participating in team activities. Reports then come out that the player, a former Boise State football player, left that school because of a sexual assault allegation AND that Baylor and Art Briles knew about this before accepting this player’s commitment.
August 21, 2015: The player is convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to 6 months prison.
September 2015: Baylor orders an investigation into the university’s handling of sexual assault cases.
January 2016: ESPN provides a report outlining several instances where Baylor failed to support sexual assault victims. It is also revealed the university did not hire a Title IX coordinator for 3 years after being directed to do so by the federal government.
April 13: Another Baylor player is accused of sexual assault and Rivals discovers the same player was accused of sexual assault in 2013.
April 14: ESPN reports Baylor took 2 YEARS to investigate a sexual assault accusation against 2 players. The assault took place in 2013 and Baylor was alerted at that time but did not investigate until 2015.
May 13: Baylor concludes its investigation.
May 18: Baylor Board of Regents decides to retain Art Briles.
May 19: ESPN furthers its report that says several members of the football team had been accused of sexual assault and/or violent acts and the players did not miss any playing time. One victim says she was never contacted by Baylor during it’s investigation.
May 26: Art Briles terminated.
Now, let’s get something out of the way. First, Art Briles is not solely responsible for the unbelievably cold and disgusting atmosphere created at Baylor University. But he is the head of the program and he knew about these allegations and knew what kind of players he brought into the program (see Boise State transfer above). If Art Briles had any soul whatsoever, he would have never recruited those players in the first place but once these incidents happened, he would have supported THE VICTIMS and not the ASSAILANTS! Because that is what we are talking about here. We are talking about a man who felt that his football players and winning stupid freaking football games overshadowed supporting women who had been raped. Even at the point of the accusation, Briles should have made it a PRIORITY for the university to investigate those accusations because a coach should not want rapists on his team and when a player is accused, he should want that person cleared. And if they are not cleared, he should want them off his team and charged and put in prison. That is what a person with a soul with do. That is not what Art Briles did.
Here’s a little tip for Art Briles: Instead of trying to protect players accused of rape by blocking or outright stopping investigations, TEACH YOUR MEN NOT TO RAPE PEOPLE!
Someday the trend will break where this society, especially at the college level, will stop thinking winning GAMES THAT DON’T MATTER outweigh the safety of women. Because this is not strictly a Baylor problem, it is a national problem. And time and time again, coaches stand by their players when these accusations are made. And standing by their players means doing everything they can to make sure those investigations don’t happen. That is disgusting.
I think Mitch Barnhart is a wonderful athletic director. He hasn’t always had the best success in every hire but he has almost always hired people with class and clean backgrounds. Calipari might have been his “riskiest” hire and I would take every single coach on my campus to have the background and history of Coach Calipari before I would even consider interviewing, considering, having 1 second of thought of bringing Art Briles in to be my janitor, much less my football coach. I can’t fathom if we need a football coach this off-season or next that Barnhart would ever consider him, no matter what his success as a coach has been. I will take 0-12 seasons for the rest of my life if it means we don’t have coaches like Art Briles associated with my team.
At this point, we obviously have no idea who UK would go after as its next head coach if Mark Stoops can’t get this thing turned around. But to hear fans mention the name Art Briles as a serious candidate they want makes me want to vomit. If he is even interviewed then UK football and UK athletics in general should have NO FEMALE FANS ever again. In reality, men should care about it just as much and not be fans of such of program either. Because that basically says that the character of our coach doesn’t matter and a team culture where violence against women is OK. That might be blunt but that also is accurate. And frankly if Art Briles is considered then I am done with UK athletics. At some point you have to recognize that these games might be an important part of your life, but more important than the safety of the student public? More important than the safety of women? I don’t think so. I’d love to hear our AD actually publicly say he would never consider Briles or any coach of the same ilk, although that won’t happen as long as we have a coach. But for now, I am just so disappointed in the small minority of fans who want Briles. If UK ever follows suit, you’ll be one less in this fanbase.