Art Briles has been out of football for less than three months after scandal at Baylor led to his departure, but he still has a hard time coming to grips that a season is starting without him on the sidelines.
“I’m dumbfounded and trying to process everything as it goes, but it is what it is,” Briles said. “Reality is reality and so what I’ve got to do is redefine myself and start a new chapter. And that’s what I’m doing.”
Briles visited Dallas Cowboys’ training camp on Tuesday and spent time watching practice with owner and general manager Jerry Jones and boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya. Briles’ former player Terrance Williams is a wide receiver for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys were the fifth camp Briles has visited this summer. He watched the Los Angeles Rams practice Monday and he has also visited former players with the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans.
In May, Briles was suspended with intent to terminate after Baylor’s regents received the results of an investigation conducted by the Pepper Hamilton law firm into how the school handled sexual assault allegations.
In June, Baylor and Briles agreed to mutual part ways. Jim Grobe was named as Briles’ successor but most of the Briles’ coaching staff, including his son, Kendal, and son in-law, Jeff Lebby, remain.
Briles said he will have more of a chance to explain his version of what transpired at Baylor but he has learned lessons.
“I’m just going to make sure that I have policies in place that are protective of everybody, students first and foremost and then administrators, coaches,” Briles said. “I don’t know. I’ve always been grateful for every chance I’ve been given to coach, so that’s never been an issue. But coming out now and being on the field, it surely makes you appreciate it even more because, it’s hard. … It’s an honor and privilege to be in the game.”
Briles hopes to return to coaching as soon as next season.
“I hope November, December, that’s the plan,” Briles said. “Unfortunately some job will come open. I’ve never rooted against anybody or any team, but that’s the nature of the business, so we’ll see what happens then. But like I said it’s going to be a new journey and I’m excited to take it. I really am.”
He does not believe the fallout from the scandal will affect his chances to land a new job.
“Because I know who I am, I know what I’ve been for 60 years,” Briles said. “So people may doubt what you say, but they’ll always believe what you do and I’ve always lived my life in a righteous manner.”
Briles has an especially close relationship with the Cowboys. His daughter, Jancy, worked in the team’s public relations department for years. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Briles has a standing invitation to visit practice whenever he wants, and Jones believes Briles will coach again soon.
“He’s a peer with his peers,” Jones said. “Certainly I think he would be a great asset to an organization … at any level. At any level. He’s a football coach and really understands talent and can evaluate talent.”
Jones would serve as a reference for Briles if needed, while acknowledging he does not condone the wrongdoings at Baylor.
“I would vouch for him as a person,” Jones said. “He’s a top-quality person. I’d want my grandson, if he had the chance, to play for him.”