BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Dressed head to toe in Browns official gear, former Baylor head coach Art Briles chatted with quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Josh McCown during Wednesday’s practice.
Officially, Briles is in Berea as a “special guest” of head coach Hue Jackson and has not been hired by the team.
Briles was fired from Baylor in late May amidst multiple sexual assault allegations that were levied against players in his football program from 2012-2015.
An internal investigation conducted by an independent law firm, Pepper Hamilton, for the university, “reflect a fundamental failure by Baylor to implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). Pepper found that Baylor’s efforts to implement Title IX were slow, ad hoc, and hindered by a lack of institutional support and engagement by senior leadership,” the report stated.
Jackson, who has preached accountability and change in culture from day 1, consulted with upper management within the Browns front office before extending the invitation to Briles. That should’ve been the end of his thought process. When in doubt, just don’t do it. But Jackson and the organization determined that the heinous accusations that occurred at Baylor on Briles’ watch were not enough to keep them from utilizing him in an unofficial consulting capacity.
They aren’t paying him and he has no title with the team, even if he’s dressed like a member of the staff and for Jackson that’s a good enough separation.
“I’ve gotten to know Coach Briles and I think he’s a tremendous offensive-minded football coach and I’m always looking for different ways of doing things and preparing things and, again, what happened at Baylor’s at Baylor,” Jackson said when asked about bringing Briles in considering the scandal at Baylor. “I respect what you’re saying and understand that trail, but, at the same time, I think everybody deserves an opportunity to do what they do and, again, I respect everybody’s feeling and I don’t condone anything or not, but that’s not for me to judge.
“Again, the opportunity to pick his brain and to have him be around and talk to him and get to know him outside of all of that in a different capacity is what was important to me.”
Briles filed suit against the university for wrongful termination and the 2 sides came to a financial settlement in mid-June.
Jackson understands that Briles’ presence around the team and the circumstances surrounding his departure from Baylor could generate a negative backlash and it doesn’t bother him one bit. He defended his decision Wednesday.
“I understand everybody has an opinion about it, but I get to judge here and what goes on here in our building and I don’t think those things have affected our building that way,” Jackson said. “Nothing happened here. I think I have to be able to judge by my relationship with him and what he’s here doing for me now and I think that’s what’s important. Again, he’s a guest. I hope you understand what the term guest means. It doesn’t mean anybody’s coaching anything, doing anything. Are they in our building around our players? Yes, but I think that’s seen as a kind of loose term by everybody.”
Jackson did not specify how long Briles would be around but he believes in second chances and learning as much as he can from different people.
“We’ve all been kind of knocked down before, I have too,” Jackson said. “I’ve been unfairly judged before and judged correctly, too. I try not to do that with people. I try to take people for face value and who they are and what they are, and I just know I’ve met him and have talked to him extensively and I think, again, whatever’s happened at Baylor, I’m not condoning or him being here says that we condone anything.
“I’m trying to learn some other things that I think are good, but also getting to know somebody on a whole different level which I think is a good thing, not a bad thing.”
Briles visited the Browns on Aug. 2 during training camp where me saw 4 of his former players who are now Browns – offensive lineman Spencer Drango, receiver Corey Coleman, quarterback Robert Griffin III and receiver Josh Gordon.