Baylor Bears

Which Hire Might Baylor Coach Art Briles Ultimately Regret?

I know your first thought after reading the headline is probably: Is this guy, Pete, out of his mind? (Answer: partially, yes). Of all the potential issues for Baylor, how could the offense ever be of concern?

That’s a fair point. The Bears are back-to-back Big 12 Champions, led by the nation’s top offense with 581 yards per game and 48 points per game. As a result, longtime Briles’ lieutenant Phillip Montgomery jumped to take the head coaching job at Tulsa. So, Montgomery’s replacement conveniently became Briles’ son, Kendal Briles, who was the wide receivers coach for seven years and the passing game coordinator the past three seasons.

But, is employing your son as the offensive coordinator really the best move for the team? Sure, Briles likely knows the playbook as well as anyone. Yes, he coached up some great wide receivers in recent years, including Kendall Wright (Titans), Terrance Williams (Cowboys), Antwan Goodley, Corey Coleman and others. But, what about if, or when, things get bumpy?

Well, just ask Bob Stoops. The Oklahoma head coach brought back his brother Mike as defensive coordinator in 2012. The idea was to rejuvenate the defense, and with Stoops came the thoughts of the “glory days” from when Stoops was on the staff that was the 2000 National Title behind a stout defense.

But, despite revamping the defensive scheme and leading the Big 12 in defense in 2013, the unit took a major step back in 2014, where the total defense fell to 5th in the Big 12, and the passing defense was the second worst in the league allowing 273 passing yards per game.

There was a large majority of fans who wanted to see a change, but Bob stood by his brother. Heck, how could he not? It’s his blood. Also, in fairness, Mike Stoops does have a proven track record of success; which is something Kendal Briles does not have, at least not as an offensive coordinator.

In fact, Briles’ first game as offensive coordinator was last season’s Cotton Bowl choke fest. Granted there are a several things that went wrong in that game that cause Michigan State to make a late 21-point comeback. But, is it fair to wonder why Baylor had a 2:1 pass:run ratio in the 4th quarter of the game when holding such a large lead? I realize Baylor’s game revolves around the pass. But, with time on your side, might it have been something to consider to at least even out the ratio to use the clock as a friend?

Baylor fans are looking at 2015 as a chance to bring in QB Seth Russell to replace Bryce Petty, continue to have an offense that hums and make the College Football Playoff. There’s certainly a solid chance that that can happen. But, what if it doesn’t?

Be it Mike Stoops, or say, Mike Shannan and his son, Kyle, who was Mike’s offensive coordinator while coach of the Washington Redskins, employing a family member is tough. It puts extra pressure on the family member who was hired, which adds pressure to the head coach, and gives the media an easy target if things go south (that being said, the Waco media isn’t exactly the same as D.C.).

Briles has huge shoes to fill in Phillip Montgomery, who had been with Art Briles since his days at Stephenville High School and has been at least the co-offensive coordinator since Briles came to Waco in 2006. Kendal Briles is 32 years old and has never been an offensive coordinator. Yes, his father is the head coach and will be there to make sure he doesn’t fall flat on his face. But, it’s something to keep an eye on as the season inches closer. How Kendal Briles does with his new QB in his first year as the offensive coordinator could very well be the difference between Baylor playing in the Playoff in January and playing in a “meaningless” exhibition.

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