All Sorts Of People Are Rushing To Defend Art Briles

Photo via Getty
Photo via Getty

Art Briles was fired from Baylor today following an investigation into what was, at best, his football program’s systemic negligence regarding repeated sexual-assault accusations. Linebacker Taylor Young mounted a convoluted defense of Briles earlier today, and more have since rushed to wax nostalgic.


Wes Welker went on The Herd today (I know, I know) and expressed his doubt that Briles would have knowingly obstructed any investigations or worked to keep his players from disciplinary consequences.

We’re still close to this day. And to tell you the truth, there’s nobody with more integrity, more just about his players, about his guys. But he’s one of the best guys out there … He has two daughters, so I just can’t see him not taking action on this. As much as he loves his players and he sticks behind them and everything, it’s hard for me to sit there and say that Art Briles didn’t try to do everything that he needed to do to rectify the situation.

Speaking of his daughters, Briles’s daughter Staley—who is married to Jeff Leddy, a Baylor assistant coach—posted a long, impassioned defense of Briles on Facebook, in which she characterized Baylor’s treatment of him as “disgusting.”

I just stopped crying long enough to be able to write this. But this is all I will say on this outrageous situation - anyone who knows my dad knows he is a man of incredible character & Faith. He is one of the most giving & unselfish people I’ve ever been around. He has been through so much in his life and always been a fighter - he’s done everything the right way & for the right reasons. He has always wanted to take over programs that were suffering, like he once did, to take them to the top, which he has done at multiple places. He wanted to be successful for his parents and make them proud. He has worked his ass off in his 40 years of coaching to get to where he is today - he has NEVER been fired, his character has NEVER been questioned and he has NEVER been deemed to do anything unethically. He has always been a players coach & wanted nothing but the best for every single one of them. He has only kept coaching as long as he has to build a sturdy foundation for his kids & grandkids. The fact that Baylor has treated him the way they have is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. Anyone who is questioning his character - doesn’t know him. There is always so much more to a story than being told. This media witch hunt has been the most disturbing thing I’ve ever witnessed. The situation has been blown so out of proportion. Sadly, Baylor was influenced heavily by the media and felt pressured to let him go. I guess a man that has resurrected your program and made you a top 10 program wasn’t worth fighting for or defending. The easy way out was taken. He will get to tell his side of the story to gain his name back - the truth will be told & he will keep fighting the good fight. We aren’t backing down & throwing in the towel. When times are tough, the tough will survive. Thanks for all the messages & texts & support - means a lot to us all. I will never wear a Baylor t-shirt ever again & I hate that, but they did the unthinkable to one that matters most. Prayers welcomed.

Unlike Welker and Leddy, New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Ron Higgins is not personally connected to Briles. His column isn’t outwardly sympathetic, but paints Briles as a man who took a chance on “troubled” athletes and got burnt, rather than (say) a man who may well have been active participant in a cover-up scheme. It’s a morally confused piece of writin that boils down to this nugget:

In Baylor’s case, a humble former high school coach whose judgment got clouded by his passion for protecting his players, his program and his paycheck, took one for the team.


Briles may or may not rise again, but the cult of the college football coach will never die.

Staff writer, Deadspin