Cougars Go All-In on the Baylor Way of Winning Football Games

The Houston Cougars decided to go all in on the #MeToo movement this weekend, announcing the addition of former Baylor assistant coaches Kendal Briles and Randy Clements to the football team’s coaching staff on Saturday morning. Of course, UH is going all in on the movement by hiring two men who were part of a staff that apparently looked the other way in a sexual assault scandal involving players on the Baylor football team. But hey, what’s a little sexual assault if the offense gets better?

The Cougars flirted with this madness after Tom Herman’s departure for Texas. Art Briles, the man who oversaw the hell-scape created by his football players, was supposedly considered as a replacement for Herman. Lane Kiffin, not necessarily known for his moral restraint, was also supposedly interviewed for the job. The Cougars instead opted to hire Major Applewhite, Herman’s offensive coordinator, as the head coach because continuity is the most important factor.

It’s no secret to anyone who watched UH football this past season that the offense struggled. The team went through three quarterbacks. It struggled to establish a run offense. The passing game was hit and miss. After struggling for half of the season, the team went all in on quarterback D’Eriq King and trying to recreate what the offense did under Greg Ward, Jr., which had everything going through the quarterback, including the running game.

It’s quite possible, with King healthy and able to participate in all offseason workouts and spring ball and camp, that the Cougar offense would look entirely different in 2018. King is a dynamic playmaker, and with a full offseason to implement an offense similar to what Ward had run, that the Cougars would be a much better team next season. But Applewhite’s offensive coordinator left to take the same job at Florida, and UH decided to blow it all up.

Enter Kendal Briles, a supposed offensive mastermind known for dynamic passing games and for putting up lots and lots of points. He’s now the offensive coordinator and associate head coach for the Cougars. Clements was hired to the offensive line coach and running game coordinator.

But Briles is more than just some offensive genius. He’s also a man who has been nailed by the NCAA for recruiting violations while coaching for his dad at Baylor. He is also named in one of the Title IX lawsuits that have been filed against Baylor by victims of the sexual assaults.

“Do you like white women?” the lawsuit quotes Briles as saying to a Dallas-area recruit. “Because we have a lot of them at BAYLOR and they LOVE football players.”

This lawsuit further states that the coaching staff employed a recruiting approach that involved taking recruits to strip clubs, making Baylor hostesses available for sex, and making alcohol and drugs available. So putting Briles in a city like Houston, known for its overabundance of strip clubs makes perfect sense if the goal is to recruit the kind of high-skill, low-character reprobates that filled out Art Briles’ Baylor squads.

The Cougars appeared to be caught off-guard by the blowback to these hirings, but the school quickly went on the defensive. School officials claimed to have delved into the backgrounds of Briles and Clements and to have conducted the proper due diligence. But the fact that the two were hired, and that UH seemed surprised that it had to defend the hirings, makes one wonder just what kind of due diligence was actually conducted. Then again, maybe Kendal Briles treated UH officials to a trip to Treasures and all concerns were just kind of stripped away.

Did UH talk to any of the Baylor victims — that shouldn’t be too hard, just contact all of the lawyers who have filed suit against Baylor. Did they talk to any of the Title IX officials at Baylor? Does UH even care about any of that, or is winning football games really that important?

The Cougars did insert a clause into the contracts of both that they are subject to termination if new information or allegations come to light. That’s good, but it is troubling that nothing that has already happened was deemed as worthy enough to keep them from being hired in the first place.

UH had a chance to hire a dynamic offensive mind when it interviewed then Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley to replace Herman. The school decided to play it safe, and it chose Applewhite. That the school now seems to be attempting to remedy that situation by hiring Briles and Clements reeks of desperation, kind of like how Baylor reeked of desperation when the sexual assault scandal started going public.

But hey, what’s a little sexual assault when it comes to putting up points and winning football games?

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
John Royal is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law. In his day job he is a complex litigation attorney. In his night job he writes about Houston sports for the Houston Press.
Contact: John Royal