After news broke that the University of Southern Mississippi was interviewing former Baylor head coach Art Briles for its offensive coordinator job, fans of the program were split. Some were excited that a former Power 5 head coach could potentially help create a strong program at USM. Others were adamantly against hiring a coach who had been dismissed amid an investigation of sexual assaults among players in his program.
In the wake of Briles’ 2016 firing at Baylor, an independent investigation found that Briles and members of his staff failed to report allegations of sexual assault to authorities.
Despite that, the Sun Herald reports that Briles interviewed with head coach Jay Hopson for the offensive coordinator position on Monday, and was later introduced to the team.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the school would no longer consider Briles for the offensive coordinator position.
Southern Miss announces it is no longer considering former Baylor coach Art Briles for a position on USM’s coaching staff. Briles interviewed for OC position— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) February 6, 2019
Coach Jay Hopson released a statement disagreeing with the decision to move beyond Briles.
Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson on Art Briles pic.twitter.com/X124t9JHxD— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) February 6, 2019
The fan backlash to the news of Briles’ interview is reminiscent of other recent incidents of fans asserting their authority over coaching hire decisions.
The University of Tennessee’s attempt to hire Greg Schiano in 2017 drew such fierce backlash from fans that it cost then-AD John Currie his job. Currie had only been at Tennessee for eight months at the time.
More recently, 247sports.com detailed accounts of how West Virginia fans attempted to influence the coaching search after Dana Holgorsen’s departure.
In the era of social media and accessible athletic directors, perhaps these leaders should get accustomed to weighing input from fans.