Less than two days after interviewing to become offensive coordinator at Southern Miss, former Baylor Head Coach Art Briles was informed by the school he was no longer a candidate for the position.
Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson is not happy about the decision.
In a text message to Stadium, Briles said, “I appreciate the trust and support of Coach Hopson – I was informed by the interim AD today that the ongoing investigation with Baylor and me was the main issue (for not being hired).”
In a statement to Stadium, Hopson did not hide his displeasure in the school’s decision.
“Although I respect the decision of (Southern Miss President) Dr. Rodney Bennett, I disagree with it. I am so grateful for the Grace & forgiveness God gives me which allows me to inherit his kingdom, which I do not deserve. I have interviewed Art Briles for an assistant position @ Southern Miss & I believe he is a man who deserves a second chance.
“He is a man that seemed sincere & humble in his interview & personally he committed no crime. He may not have acted in the proper protocol, but that would be my JOB at Southern Miss! He was interviewing for an assistant position, even though I believe he will be a Head Coach at a Major Program in the near future. However, I believe he is a man who does love the Lord and deserves a second chance. He has been banned from employment in college football for 3 (years) and has been punished. I understand both sides have opinions, this is just mine!”
Sources told Stadium there were “big donors” at Southern Miss that wanted Briles, considered one of the nation’s most innovative offensive coaches, as its offensive coordinator.
Besides Hopson, Briles also met with Bennett on Tuesday, a source said. Then this morning, the school issued a statement that Briles was no longer a candidate and “the university will have no further comment on this matter.”
During Briles’ tenure at Baylor, the football program enjoyed its greatest success on the field in school history. Briles coached the Bears to a 65-37 record from 2008-15, leading them to Associated Press Top 25 rankings for a school-record six consecutive seasons.
However, off the field was a different story. School regents reported 19 football players were accused of sexual assault or domestic violence between 2011 and ’16, including four allegations of gang rapes. A lawsuit also alleged 31 football players committed at least 52 acts of rape between 2011 and ’14.
There have been 10 Title IX lawsuits filed against Baylor by 22 women – 20 of whom allege being sexually or physically assaulted. Four of those complaints have been settled or dismissed.
Briles, who is scheduled to appear before the NCAA’s infractions committee this spring, is facing Level I NCAA violations from his time at Baylor.
A source said earlier this week that Conference USA did not have any league rules that prohibit or address the hiring of university staff, so the decision to hire Briles was strictly up to the school.
Friends of Briles were optimistic – as Briles himself was – that he would be given the opportunity to return to coaching at Southern Miss, but his latest attempt was unsuccessful.
In 2016, I reported Briles was scheduled to interview for the Houston coaching vacancy, where he was the Cougars’ coach from 2003-07. However, once my report went public, the school backtracked and issued a statement that Briles was not being considered for the job. In 2017, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League hired Briles as an assistant. But the next day, the team announced Briles would not remain due in part to the negative backlash the team received.
In August, Briles was hired to coach an Italian football team. That team is scheduled to begin play in March.