By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) It’s already working, this odious and over-lawyered relaunch of Art Briles, the former Baylor football coach who likes to recruit and protect violent criminals who prey on the women of whatever campus he inhabits.
He wants the chance to do it again, so he and his PR team arranged for an ESPN interview to let him provide weaselly and passively voiced answers that ignore the grim reality. Multiple rapes and sexual assaults occurred on his watch and eventually overwhelmed the university with the depth and breadth of the football program’s facilitating role. It was a bad look for anybody actually listening to him answer the questions, but that won’t matter. It’s the process, not the content.
As our attention is diverted to early season games, Briles entered his self-serving performance into the record, allowing him to point to it and reference it when other questions arise about all the horrors on the banks of the Brazos.
“I already talked about that,” he can say. “That’s in the past, and I’m moving forward, focused on the future. I’m here to talk football.”
Though no college can possibly justify bringing him even close to their environment, you can bet that one will once the waste-treatment process cleans him off enough for some victory-starved boosters to sell his candidacy to a weak school president and out-voted board. He wins, and he has friends all over the game who know it.
Briles can serve an exile in the NFL, acting as a quarterbacks coach or offensive assistant. It’s actually a perfect time for a team to hire a spread/tempo savant like Briles, as the disparity between the styles of the college and pro games has made it more difficult to develop quality quarterbacks. If not a positional coach, look for him to mark time as an outside consultant to a head coach or general manager.
And then when the next collegiate scandals have pushed all of the Briles awfulness well down the list, Creative Artists Agency will get to work.
Briles has hired Jimmy Sexton, the CAA football bigfoot whose list of clients includes such names as Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher and Gus Malzahn. He’s one of the most connected power brokers in the sport and wouldn’t have accepted Briles if he didn’t think he could eventually find him real work again. Sexton also represents a stable of NFL stars and is described by Forbes as having “developed a notorious reputation in front offices and athletic departments everywhere for his shrewd negotiation skills.”
He’ll need them to sell an obtuse and unrepentant coach who still doesn’t seem to grasp what he did wrong and who was really victimized. But we’re talking about football and the American South — a marriage of cultures that can be more welcoming together. Roots are deep and wide in Texas, and already such notable writers as FOX Sports’s Bruce Feldman are speculating about a Briles return to coach Houston, while Texas Monthly magazine envisions a 2018 carousel involving multiple schools within the state that could land Briles another job. That this is happening just months after his ouster upon the release of an independent report on his wrongdoing is testament to the combined restorative powers of his coaching, his agents and the ceaseless addiction to football.
It will take time, but Art Briles will ooze his way back to a place of outsized power at a college, where women will be in greater danger the moment he arrives.