Former Baylor coach Art Briles has started the old apology tour. He told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi: “I made mistakes. I did wrong, but I’m not doing this trying to make myself feel better for apologizing. I understand I made some mistakes. There was some bad things that went on under my watch. I was the captain of this ship. The captain of the ship goes down with it.”
First off, there were more than “some bad things” that went down under your watch. There were a number of incidents of sexual assault involving football players. It was so bad; you’re out of a job, as is the athletic director and school president. That’s more than “some bad things.”
Some bad things would be a couple of tough losses. Or maybe a few guys getting busted for chron. We’re talking about you, your boss and your boss’s boss all getting broken off. That doesn’t happen over “some bad things.” That happens when your program comes off the rails and you’re more concerned with wins than you are the safety of the students on campus.
What we’re talking about here, according to the law firm that investigated it, “are significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor’s football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of student-athlete misconduct.”
I’m not even sure I have time to run down all the issues at Baylor over the last few years. According to Outside the Lines, there was a player who’d been suspected of four sexual assaults and one attempted sexual assault from 2009 to 2012. Then there was the OTL report about two other Baylor players accused of sexual assault, but the school did not investigate for more than two years.
Worse still, two other players accused of sexual assault were recruited by Briles after they’d already been dismissed from their previous schools for off-field problems. Which means that they weren’t just there on your watch, but you brought them there on your watch. And that’s just a shortened list of things that we know about.
Briles also told Rinaldi: “So, I understand that I made some mistakes, and for that I’m sorry. But I’m not trying to plead for people’s sympathy. I’m just stating that, ‘Hey, I made some mistakes. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m gonna learn. I’m gonna do better.”
Saying “Hey, I made some mistakes” isn’t exactly owning up to it. As apologies go that’s one of the weakest I’ve ever heard. And a radical departure from what Briles was saying less than a month ago.
When Briles visited a Houston Texans practice in August, he told the media: “I’ve [coached] for 38 years, lived the right way 60 years of my life, never done anything illegal, immoral or unethical. I think at the end of the day, all that will show itself, and I’m excited about coaching again, I really am.”
So which is it? You made some mistakes or you’ve never ever done anything immoral and unethical. Because looking the other way while your players are committing sexual assault is both?
And then he went on to say last month, “You know, if you lose your dog, all of a sudden you’re looking around hard for him. You’ll stay up late at night looking for him. I’ve lost my dog, my dog’s football, and I’m ready to go find him again.” Losing your football team because the program was completely out of control and players were sexually assaulting classmates is not the same as losing your dog.
In fairness, ESPN only released part of the interview and the whole thing will air this weekend, so maybe there is full ownership and accountability; maybe Briles really does get it. But I doubt it. He never demanded it from his players so safe to assume he never held himself to any standard, and still isn’t.
So I’m just going to go ahead and say that “apology” is more about finding his dog than actually owning what happened. And the worst part is, he probably will find his dog. He probably will be back in coaching next season. After all, someone did hire Dave Bliss after he was canned at Baylor and he tried to cover up a murder.