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Briles goes to Baylor

I’m not quite sure I understand this.

Art Briles on Wednesday accepted the position as head coach at Baylor, accepting a seven-year deal worth approximately $1.8 million per year.

“It looks like my tenure here at the University of Houston has come to an end,” Briles said. “I’m thankful for the great players, coaches and fans that I’ve been associated with these past five years.”

University of Houston athletics director Dave Maggard said Wednesday that Briles will not coach the Cougars in the Texas Bowl, saying he would name an interim coach by 5 p.m. Maggard also said that a “national” search will begin immediately for a new head coach, but would not specifically identify any candidates.

“I think Art has done an outstanding job here,” Maggard said. “We appreciate everything he has done for us.”

Briles has four years remaining on a contract extension he signed last year. The reworked contract paid $900,000 per year and could have exceeded $1 million with incentives. That contract has a $300,000 buyout clause that allowed Briles, 51, to accept the Baylor job.

The Bears have scheduled a 5:30 p.m. press conference to introduce Briles as their new head coach.

Okay, the money part I understand. At least, I understand it from Briles’ perspective. Why Baylor would want to shell out nearly $10.6 million over seven years on a coach is a bit of a mystery. Can they really afford that? If there’s one thing that the Lords of Baseball have learned lately, it’s not the annual salaries that kill you, it’s the length of the contracts. You can really get stuck down the line with a commodity that’s no longer worth anywhere near what you originally paid for it. It doesn’t have to work out that way, of course, but it is a risk.

The other thing I don’t quite understand is why Briles thinks Baylor is going to be a good opportunity for him.

Briles is replacing Guy Morriss, who was fired Nov. 18, one day after the Bears completed a 3-9 season, their 12th straight losing season, and went 0-8 in the Big 12. Bears went 18-40 overall under Morriss, 7-33 in Big 12 games.

“I think the challenge is always (a lure),” said Briles of moving on. “That’s why you coach. We crossed a few bridges here that haven’t been crossed before. I can find comfort in the fact that this program (Houston) is on solid ground. There are some good players in the house here that are coming back and ready to go. We’ve built a winning tradition here, one that people will be proud of.”

The Bears last above-.500 finish came in 1995, when they went 7-4 under coach Chuck Reedy, and they have not been ranked since the second week of the 1992 season when they were No. 24 in the AP poll before a 45-21 loss to No. 10 Colorado. Since joining the Big 12 in 1996, the Bears have gone 11-85 in conference play, winning no more than three games (3-5 in 2006) and getting outscored by an average of 39.2-16.9 in 96 Big 12 games.

How do you compete in the Big XII as Baylor? Briles did a fine job at UH, which as Richard Justice notes is a challenging environment. He may well have what it takes to succeed in a much tougher conference, I don’t know. Whatever confidence he’s got in his abilties, he’s gonna need, that’s all I’m saying.

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  1. eb says:

    A great deal for Briles and no one else. It is surprising Baylor would give a 7 year contract to a coach when no coach has lasted there that long since Grant Teaff. Baylor is in the wrong conference period. Long term they can only expect to win the south division once every 20 years.

  2. Roger says:

    Yeah, I have no idea why a (relatively) young coach would make the decision to go to Baylor. From Stephenville High to UH to Baylor? That doesn’t make any sense.

    Baylor football is a career killer. If he wants to stay in Texas that bad, he should’ve waited for someone to gobble up TCU’s coach and jump over there.