How many chances in sports?
Forgiveness is an important part of life.
We’re taught when we’re little that if someone does something wrong, we should pardon them and move on from what occurred.
This is a common thing in sports and in most cases these days, we’re not only asked to forgive certain things, but forget what occurred as well.
That is the case right now with Art Briles.
Briles is the former head football coach at Baylor and was fired in May after an investigation found that the school had mishandled sexual assault allegations, many of which involved football players.
Briles has been on a redemption tour of sorts for quite a while and it hasn’t gone well. He’s dodged questions about what happened and the whole point of this trip seemed to be to help get him another coaching job, not create awareness of sexual assault.
Due to his lack of remorse and probably moreso, the public relations problems that would result from hiring him, colleges have avoided him like the plague. The Canadian Football League, on the other hand, was willing to give him a shot.
Earlier this week, the Hamilton (Ontario) Tiger-Cats announced they had hired Briles to be an assistant coach, but their justification for hiring the embattled coach was weak at best.
After quite a bit of backlash, the Tiger-Cats backtracked on their decision and Briles was unemployed again.
Hamilton CEO Scott Mitchell said the team “underestimated the tsunami of negativity that was going to happen.”
I’m not a business expert, but you’d think that a CEO might want to consider that before making a highly controversial hiring decision.
Briles isn’t the only former Baylor coach that has been rehired after a huge scandal. The difference is this guy managed to keep his job for quite a while.
Dave Bliss is the former BU men’s basketball coach and his wrongdoings were just as serious. Bliss’ first venture into immoral behavior at the school involved paying part of the tuition for two players, Patrick Dennehy and Corey Herring.
That wasn’t the worst part, though. Dennehy was later killed by his teammate, Carlton Dotson. To help cover up his own deeds, Bliss portrayed Dennehy as a drug dealer after he died and said that was how he was paying for his own tuition.
He was also recorded on tape telling his players to go along with it. He also tried to convince Herring’s mother to say that she was paying her son’s tuition, and at one point, told the financial aid office that he was Herring’s father.
Bliss eventually resigned and was slapped with a 10-year show-cause order by the NCAA. Basically, if Bliss was hired by an NCAA team before his order expired, he would have to abide by whatever restrictions placed on him and then report back in writing every six months. He wasn’t hired during the period by an NCAA school and it expired in 2015.
You’d think that by all logic, there wouldn’t be a place in this country, let alone a school, that would attach itself to this guy.
However, you’d be wrong. Bliss was a head coach in the Continental Basketball Association before getting hired as a coach and athletic director at a college prep school in Texas back in 2010.
Later that same year, he received a two-year suspension from coaching basketball thanks to another scandal. That didn’t stop Southwest Christian University from hiring Bliss in 2015 despite all evidence saying not to do so.
Bliss resigned from that school in April after appearing in a documentary about the Baylor scandal where he again said that Dennehy dealt drugs. This guy had the audacity to spread the same lie that he peddled more than a decade ago.
He also has been hired to coach basketball at a high school in Las Vegas, so his tour is working out a lot better than Briles’ has so far.
Bliss and Briles are just some of the cases that have gone on in sports where coaches and players have been given several chances and continue to do what they’ve always done.
After a scandal at Oklahoma, Indiana went and hired Kelvin Sampson to be its men’s basketball coach. Sure enough, he was involved in another one with the Hoosiers.
Kentucky head coach John Calipari had a big impropriety at Memphis involving Derrick Rose, but still got hired by the Wildcats.
How many times did Bob Knight do terrible things to his players and still get to keep his job at Indiana before finally getting his pink slip? It’s ridiculous but it continues to happen every year.
So how do we stop it? It’s hard to say, really. Maybe a probationary period like the one the NCAA hands out, but even stricter or longer? Perhaps there should be a three-strikes rule where if a coach or player violates the rules three times, they’re banned from the NCAA.
In some serious cases like violent incidents, maybe they only get one opportunity and maybe be a little more lenient on ones involving issues like marijuana. It really bothers me when domestic abusers get to still play ball, but a guy who smokes weed in his free time gets slapped with a multi-game suspension.
There’s some misplaced priorities there.
Ultimately, the best way to solve it is to just look at ourselves in the mirror and then take a stand. If we’re against these types of behaviors, then why do we keep letting people get away with it?
We as fans tend to be strongly opposed to it when other teams are involved, but when it’s our favorite team, we tend to either let it slide or even justify it. If that isn’t hypocritical, I don’t know what is.
Forgiveness is a good thing. We all make mistakes and we’d like to have a chance to redeem ourselves, so giving someone a second chance isn’t wrong.
However, if someone has done something serious, we can’t just be willing to shrug it off like the Tiger-Cats did.
Art Briles should get another job, but he doesn’t deserve to be a coach again.
We can forgive him, but we can’t forget it and he shouldn’t either.
Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.