Art Briles has been fired by Baylor amid a major scandal. Who can pick up the pieces? Who are five coaching options the school should consider?
Realizing that the game of football doesn’t matter considering the horrific situation and a far more important problem at Baylor, on the field, the firing of Art Briles brings up an interesting and unique situation. Where does Baylor find the right head coach to start leading the way out of this mess?
With the school letting go of Briles as well as Ken Starr, it’s been very, very rightfully acknowledged that the entire culture has to change and things have to be different in every way possible. Now, Baylor is going to bend-over-backwards to try to make this right, not just in a football way, but from a PR standpoint.
The Bears might have brought plenty of positive notoriety to the school with its offense, RGIII, and a rags-to-riches story that would’ve been one of the most interesting in recent college football history, but none of that matters now.
Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett will reportedly be the interim head coach, but going forward, who’s going to be the right guy?
Baylor can’t have any real ties to the Briles era, and it’s the summer – it can’t realistically think about any high-profile head coach who already has a good gig.
Everyone will say Tom Herman should make the move, but he has Houston is a position to do something special this year – no way he bails on this now. And forget about getting another name from another Power Five school – it’s just not going to happen.
This isn’t like taking on the Texas job, or Michigan, or any of the bluebloods. Baylor is a unique situation in terms of school size, history, and what it takes to win there. It requires a coach with a style and a system that’s going to work no matter what – and a guy who’ll be able to handle the outsized expectations to keep the offensive style of football going at the unattainable levels that Briles was able to achieve.
Good luck with that.
Ranking from the stopgaps to get through the season – this is a loaded team that most coaches would love to work with – to the truly viable options, here are five names that should be in the mix to take over.
Chad Morris, SMU Head Coach
This is the one of the current head coaches who might be able to make the move without it being too much of a problem. He went 2-10 in his one year with SMU, but he’s widely acknowledged as one of the best offensive minds in the game after a great run as Clemson’s offensive coordinator. The Texas A&M grad knows the state, knows what it takes to deal with the Texas attitudes and expectations, and knows how to crank up an attack. Even under normal circumstances, he’d be a top prospect.
In terms of other current head coaches who fit the profile to try to keep the fun going, at least on the field …
Jeff Brohm, WKU Head Coach
WKU might be coming off a Conference USA championship season, but it’s do-over time losing enough key players to take a big step back. The Hilltoppers managed to keep their head coach this year, but that’s going to change soon considering he’s just 45 and he really knows how to crank up an offense. It was WKU, not Baylor, who led the nation in passing efficiency last season and finished fourth in passing and third in scoring. Brohm would be more than just a fill-in – he’d be the type of coach who could take what Briles created and do even more with it.
But if Baylor really and truly can’t go after and get a current head man …
Mike Singletary, Baylor Legend
This would be the get-through-the-storm choice and not a long-term option. Only turning 58 this fall, he’s still relatively young and has the legendary status and unquestioned respect to take over and settle down the situation. He’s not going to be the offensive mind the program might need, and it might be established up front that he’s only doing it for the good of the school, but he’s got three years of NFL coaching experience – even it was a strange run – and he’d fix the PR problem in the short term.
But if Baylor wants to try to test out another type of option and get a hot offensive coordinator who, at the very least, should be able to take what’s in place and make it fly, statistically …
Doug Meacham, TCU Co-Offensive Coordinator
Not that Gary Patterson will do much to help Baylor out by allowing one of his key assistants go check out the possibilities, at least TCU has Sonny Cumbie around to assume the full offensive coordinator gig if Meacham would leave. His arrival two years ago helped spark one of the most impressive offensive turnarounds in college football, and he would have no problems whatsoever making this Bear team rock. A 51-year-old lifer of a coordinator, he’s ready to take a big step up.
If Baylor really wants to take a shot for the stars with a way-too-early pick …
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma Offensive Coordinator
Just 32 years old going into the season, the former Texas Tech Red Raider might not be all that close to being ready yet, but if it’s about cranking up the offense, he might be buying in early on the tech stock. Fantastic as the East Carolina offensive coordinator, he came over to Oklahoma and ramped up the Air Raid style that made Baker Mayfield a Heisman finalist and helped take the team into the College Football Playoff. Again, considering this is all happening just a few months before the season, Baylor might have to find the best combination of immediacy and upside – Riley is it.