Major! No! Bad coach!
A win-at-any-cost mentality apparently compelled Texas Ex and current Houston Cougars head coach Major Applewhite to hire former Baylor Bears assistants Kendal Briles and Randy Clements on Saturday, the school announced in a release. Briles will coordinate the offense and coach the quarterbacks, while Clements will coordinate the running game and coach the offensive line.
“We are excited to welcome Kendal, Randy and their families back to Houston. They have extensive knowledge of our program and its standards, and we know they will be the right fit,” Applewhite said in a statement.
“They both have been a part of some of the nation’s top offenses with multiple programs and have shown the ability to learn and adapt while staying thoroughly tied into our state’s landscape in terms of recruiting. Throughout this process we have researched their abilities and backgrounds with several references and have received glowing praise.”
The subscript to all of this? Applewhite went 7-6 in his first season at Houston after the school president set lofty expectations when he was hired to replace Tom Herman last year — “The winning is defined at University of Houston as 10 and 2,” Renu Khator told faculty and staff at an annual holiday party at her home. “We’ll fire coaches at 8 and 4.”
Applewhite tabbed rising assistant Brian Johnson as his offensive coordinator last season, but Johnson bailed on Houston to re-unite with Dan Mullen at Florida, leaving the Houston head coach looking for a splash hire.
If Applewhite becoming a version of sheisty, desperate Lane Kiffin without the entertaining trolling constitutes a splash hire, then Briles probably counts in that regard as the replacement for Johnson. Win at all costs, and all.
Kiffin hired Briles to that same role at FAU in December of 2016.
“My plan is not in place to please the media,” Kiffin said after he added Briles to his staff, like the petulant child that he is. “My plan is still in place to do the best thing for our players and the people that hired me.”
The athletic director supposedly asked “tough questions” of Briles and came away sufficiently convinced to approve the hire. Okay.
Such a statement required a significant suspension of disbelief at the time of his hire and then needed a little bit more shortly thereafter.
“Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at BAYLOR and they LOVE football players,” Briles allegedly told a Dallas-area recruit.
The lawsuit that included that alleged interaction was filed by a former Baylor student who said she was the victim of a gang rape by two Bears football players. Included in that lawsuit were details about the culture that Art and Kendal Briles encouraged at the school:
According to the lawsuit, the Baylor coaching staff used a “show ‘em a good time” approach in recruiting, which allegedly included taking recruits to strip clubs, making girls in Baylor’s hostess program available for sex, and using drugs and alcohol.
Baylor reached a settlement agreement with the former student last September. Known as “Elizabeth Doe,” an investigation indicated she was “aware of at least 52 rapes, including five gang rapes by not less than 31 different football players under former Baylor Football Head Coach Art Briles.”
Before the settlement and after the hire of Briles by FAU, the school president claimed that he had found “nothing concerning” about the involvement of Briles in the sexual assault scandal at Baylor prior to his hire.
But here’s the problem, just like the hire of quality control assistant Casey Horny was a problem for Texas and head coach Tom Herman — the school president made a decision based on what was almost certainly a limited understanding of the scandal.
Did FAU know about the allegations in Elizabeth Doe’s lawsuit before hiring Briles? Probably not. And that’s the issue. There’s little chance that FAU appropriately vetted Kendal Briles before hiring him, just like there was little chance for Texas to appropriately vet Horny.
A complete understanding of the scandal’s scope simply wasn’t possible at that time. And still isn’t now, in all likelihood.
The difference for Kiffin is that Horny was a quality control assistant who was never directly implicated. Briles was the son of the head coach and then subsequently implicated in the scandal. In a big way.
And then, regarding the timeline of that critical lawsuit by Elizabeth Doe, Kiffin could at least point to his potential ignorance of it when he hired Briles. Applewhite can’t.
As a quality control coach, Horny also had at least some level of plausible deniability when Herman hired him at Texas, even though he engaged in releasing the joint statement from the Baylor coaches that Kendal Briles posted in support of his father months after the scandal broke. Briles has much less overall plausible deniability as the head coach’s son. And eventual offensive coordinator. And the guy who released that statement on Twitter.
Like Horny, at a later date Briles thought better of that tweet and deleted it, just like Horny deleted tweets that supported Art Briles after they became public following his hire by Texas.
As if that makes those sentiments suddenly moot.
And now Houston has found nothing but “glowing praise” regarding Briles after Florida Atlantic ranked No. 6 nationally in offensive S&P+ this season. Makes sense in that regard.
Complicating the situation for Applewhite is that fact that he has his own history of sexual misconduct. The then-potential and currently ongoing discrimination lawsuit filed by former women’s track and field coach Bev Kearney forced Texas in 2013 to acknowledge that Applewhite engaged in “inappropriate, consensual behavior with an adult student” on the Fiesta Bowl trip in early January of 2009. The student was a trainer for the football team.
Relatedly, Applewhite’s wife had the couple’s first child in January of 2009. For perspective, the Fiesta Bowl was played on January 5.
Applewhite had his pay frozen for on year as a result of the incident, which is one of the central claims made by Kearney’s attorneys against Texas in the discrimination lawsuit. In November, former president Bill Powers, former athletic director DeLoss Dodds, and former head football coach Mack Brown were all questioned under oath in the lawsuit.
Perhaps Applewhite never learned his lesson and that made it easier for him to excuse the alleged misconduct by Briles.
Shame on you, Major. Once again.