Appearing at his first SWAC football media day, Hue Jackson said he does not regret hiring Art Briles as Grambling State offensive coordinator despite the visceral reaction and ultimate departure of the one-time exiled coach.
“Me, I truly still believe in Art Briles,” Jackson reaffirmed Thursday. “I understand the backlash that came, but if people knew the information that I had at my disposal (and) not what everybody writes but what the truth is.”
Briles, who had not coached in college football since he was fired at Baylor in the wake of sexual assault allegations into the Bears football program while he was head coach, was hired in February and was on the job 10 days before resigning amid the mounting criticism.
During his eight seasons in Waco, Briles went 65-37 and won a pair of Big 12 championships during a run that led to four Top 25 finishes.
At the time of Briles’ hiring, Jackson defended the partnership saying in a letter through his foundation that the interest was a testament to “forgiveness,” “redemption” and “enlightenment.”
Several months later, Jackson has not wavered from those sentiments.
“You know, when one narrative takes off (then) everybody starts running with it,” he said. “So I think if we dig deep, we’ll find out that it’s a different story there, but that’s okay.”
Jackson later named ex-Memphis assistant John Simon to offensive coordinator assistant in place of Briles, though Jackson said he will work extensively with the unit.
Now, said Jackson, the team has moved past that rocky period and is looking ahead to the fall.
“That’s behind us now,” he said. “What I made the decision to do is to make myself the coordinator. We had Ted White who went to the Houston Texans. We had Art and it didn’t work out. So hey, Hue go do what you do. I’m excited. In fact, I’m rejuvenated and looking forward to leading this offense with John Simon and the rest of our coaching staff.”