Does anyone know who Art Briles is?

These words echoed across the living room of a Mt. Vernon High School senior just minutes before leaving his house to accept his diploma this past Friday night, May 24.

His mother, obviously unaware of the sexual assault/rape scandal that follows Briles, was reading a text that was sent to hundreds of parents and community members upon the school board’s unanimous decision to hire the embattled, if not controversial, former Baylor University head football coach to run the Tigers football program beginning in the fall.

Mt. Vernon ISD posted a video last Friday welcoming Biles. The post says "Welcome to Mt. Vernon Coach Art Biles! Tiger Pride! #ItsAGreatDAyToBeATiger!"

The news of the hiring was not only a surprise to the Mt. Vernon parents and community, but a shock to those surrounding the Baylor University scandal and the sports media nationwide.

While the new hire at Mt. Vernon High School will certainly bring a continuous flow of national news, attention, and plenty of negative reaction for the once proud home of Texas legend “Dandy” Don Meredith, according to some, the district has seen an above average amount of turnover in personnel over the last 2 years even before the hiring.

Josh Finney, who according to MaxPreps, coached the Tigers to a 9-5 record in 2018, has moved back to his alma mater at Winnsboro making the September 20 match-up between the 2 historic rivals even more dramatic nationally than locally. Many coaches and former coaches who are now administrators around the area have commented on how well Finney, his staff, and the entire athletic department has performed the last few years, even using the words, he “really brought that program back strong."

Reportedly, there was no special committee appointed to search for the right fit, no public forum scheduled, and no public input or community consultation before the vote and subsequent hiring of Briles. Just the announcement shortly before graduation of the class of 2019. I grew up as an athlete admiring coaches from George Oreyna and Johnny Fontana with PSA (Plano Sports Authority) as a kid, to Jim Coleman at the Y, and Ike Brown at Williams High School to name a few. That, along with being a sportscaster around this area since 1989, absolutely does NOT make me an expert on what it takes to be a great coach. I have, however, spent a lot of time speaking with and learning from coaches around field houses who preach as well as live their profession and life with an unbreakable code of humanity and ethics.

Those close to the “Texas Football Tradition” have their work cut out for them in 2019 trying to cycle through the dynamic of what the upside of this equation will ultimately produce. Want it or not, the city of Mt. Vernon has become a household name whether you live in North Texas, or North Dakota.

Art Briles tenure came to an abrupt halt before the 2016 season, when he was dismissed by Baylor amid a massive sexual assault scandal into multiple incidents involving players in the program.

Grant Teaff, former Executive Director of the American Football Coaches Association and supervisor of the association's Ethics Committee, said in the press release that "Briles never incurred a single recruiting infraction during his time at the collegiate level," and defended the hire.

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