Following a six-year absence, Art Briles is back in college football. Grambling State has hired the former Baylor coach as its new offensive coordinator, a university spokesman confirmed to 247Sports' Chris Hummer. The school will not be announcing the hire publicly, but instead allowed an exclusive interview between Briles and TV station KTAL-6 in Shreveport, Louisiana, to "tell that story."
Briles was the head coach for the Bears from 2008-15, where he posted a 65-37 record with four top-15 finishes and two New Year's Six/BCS bowl berths.
His time at Baylor came to an end in the spring of 2016 when he was suspended, and subsequently fired, following a lengthy investigation into the university's handling of sexual assault allegations from 2012-16. The independent investigation from Pepper Hamilton LLP found that Briles and his staff did not take action against players mentioned in the allegations. University president Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw also resigned due to the scandal.
"I'm rooted in fact," Grambling athletic director Trayvean Scott told ESPN's Pete Thamel. "I know a lot of things are said and done. We felt it [was appropriate] to give him a chance to really redeem himself after understanding where the facts lie."
Last year, an NCAA infractions panel concluded that Briles "failed to meet even the most basic expectations of how a person should react to the kind of conduct at issue in this case. ... Furthermore, as a campus leader, the head coach is held to an even higher standard. He completely failed to meet this standard." However, Briles was not found guilty of any NCAA violations.
Baylor and Briles reached a settlement in Briles' wrongful termination case in Federal court in 2018, although terms of the deal were not disclosed due to Baylor being a private institution.
This is Briles' first foray back into the college coaching ranks. He was hired by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League in 2017, but the team immediately reversed its decision following backlash from fans and officials. Briles coached in Italy the following season before taking over at Mount Vernon (Texas) High School.
Briles was widely known around college football as one of the most innovative offensive minds in the game, and his spread offense has become the foundation of many offenses schemes around the country. Briles was the head coach at Houston prior to his arrival in Waco, where he led the Cougars to a 34-28 record from 2003-07.
Grambling coach Hue Jackson released a statement on Friday, through his Hue Jackson Foundation, defending his choice to bring Briles on board.
"We have a clear understanding of the role that coaches and others who have a position of trust play in the loves of those they meet," Jackson wrote. "We also know and understand the process of identifying risks, helping others to heal and importance of prevention. We believe that through the hiring of coach Briles and the well-developed programs we have in place, this hire will be instrumental in teaching the others of importance of knowing how to prevent victimization, proper reporting procedures, provide adequate resources to individuals who have been victimized and develop strong law enforcement partnerships within the community."
The entire letter can be read below.
On Monday, however, Grambling released a statement to CBS Sports which pointed out that the views within Jackson's statement do not reflect those of the school.
"The Hue Jackson Foundation is not a part of Grambling State University," the statement read. "This is his own Foundation and acts independently from the University."