Let’s be clear: It’s not necessarily wrong that Kendal Briles is Florida State’s highly-paid offensive coordinator. I won’t go that far, and if people have gained the impression that I think Briles has no right to be hired by schools in need of a good play-caller, I need to be more specific than I have been in the past. This informs my view of the dismissal of Deondre Francois from Florida State’s program Sunday, not too long after a post on social media accused him, again, of domestic violence:
Deondre Francois dismissed from Florida State. pic.twitter.com/NvHt6v46yo
— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) February 3, 2019
The more precise point I need (and needed) to make about Briles is that there is a difference between guilt and accountability, between failure and inadequacy, between bad behavior and a lack of ideal behavior. There is — or at least, there often can be — a lot of daylight between those different ends of a behavioral spectrum.
Kendal Briles isn’t necessarily a guilty man, but he IS a man, who has not yet been ACCOUNTABLE for his actions under his daddy, Art Briles, at Baylor.
Yes, Kendal Briles wasn’t at the top of an organizational structure, so he is not accountable for what happened to nearly the same degree as his father. We don’t really know everything about what Kendal Briles knew. We know a lot more about what Art Briles and former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw knew. They were the two people most fully in charge of the program. How much should Kendal Briles’ career suffer for the sins of his father? It all depends on how much Kendal himself knew.
We shouldn’t think he is guilty, but we certainly should expect him to be accountable for what happened, and to provide an explanation for why he didn’t do enough to stem the rape culture which emerged at Baylor. Maybe his explanation would be credible, and maybe it would not be — but he at least needed (and still does need, in the present tense) — to offer that public statement which basically says:
“I am accountable for my actions and did not know about various events This does not make me a good person — I need to be better and more vigilant, and I detest what happened under my father at Baylor — but it does mean I did not witness or learn about appalling behavior and fail to address it. I am acutely aware that I cannot tolerate such behavior now or at any point in my future coaching career.”
The public at least deserves that kind of statement in conjunction with a fuller public account of his time at Baylor. If his statement checked out, by all means, he would deserve to be hired by anyone… but in the absence of that kind of public disclosure, what is a wary population supposed to think about his level of involvement in everything bad which happened under his father at Baylor?
In the absence of taking at least some ownership of the situation and making a more profound acknowledgment of the pain and trauma caused to so many young women at Baylor under a program (poorly) monitored by his own father, everyone on the outside is left to think — and possibly FEAR — the worst about Kendal Briles.
That’s the more precise point I wanted to make when I criticized Florida State’s decision to hire him. The hiring wasn’t wrong in itself; the hiring was wrong (or perhaps premature) in the context of Kendal Briles not taking sufficient public ownership or accountability for the Baylor mess. Had Kendal done so, he could have cleared up misperceptions and improved public awareness of his role (or non-role, as it might be) in that awful series of events in Waco.
As it stands, Kendal Briles still hasn’t opened up to the public in a display of sunlight and transparency a billion-dollar college sports industry ought to expect from its well-compensated employees.
Now, turn to Francois.
Maybe he has been absolutely nailed to the wall for his behaviors. He might have done something quite terrible. I’m not saying or suggesting he didn’t However: I have seen plenty of schools wait longer than roughly 14 hours to make rulings in these sorts of situations. I have seen college athletes get away with similar levels of (alleged) behavior. Why is Francois so swiftly being dismissed?
A big reason is the previous similar allegations and circumstances last winter against Francois. He ended up not being charged and played in 2018.
Willie Taggart referred in the statement Sunday to having “the highest standards” in his program. That sounds great, but this is where the Kendal Briles hire — without a public statement of accountability from the offensive coordinator — comes back to make FSU and Taggart look bad.
It’s a very familiar story in college sports: The coach stays on board with his big paycheck (Briles), while the athlete is left to fend for himself. Again, this doesn’t mean Briles is automatically guilty. It doesn’t mean Francois is innocent, either.
It DOES mean that, as we have recently seen with Silvio De Sousa and Bill Self — and other NCAA basketball cases related to a range of events, including but not limited to the recent FBI investigation into payments involving shoe/apparel companies — the coach somehow regularly manages to skate free, while the athlete gets whacked. One gets a lot more due process or benefit of the doubt than the other.
Kendal Briles isn’t necessarily guilty. One must prove that first. Deondre Francois might not have committed a crime, but he clearly seems to have demonstrated terrible judgment, again, something which — in the realm of possible sexual abuse or domestic violence — can indeed be enough to merit dismissal from an athletic program. It’s not as though Briles being on FSU’s staff is inherently or automatically bad, or that Francois being dismissed is just as automatically unfair.
That’s not my point.
My point is that when a coach and an athlete get treated in two very different ways — something which just keeps happening with ceaseless regularity in college sports — we have to stop and ask ourselves why accountability isn’t a two-way street, and why coaches aren’t held to the same standards of athletes.
That’s my point, and I hope it sticks this time.
FSU and LSU announced two game neutral site series Tuesday
In an effort to continue to beef up their out-of-conference schedules, FSU announced on Tuesday that they will play newly-crowned National Champion, LSU in two neutral site games coming soon in 2022 and 2023.
The Seminoles made the announcement through social media and their website that they will be playing the “Bayou Bengals” first in New Orleans and then, in Orlando:
Noles vs. Tigers set for '22/'23!!!https://t.co/nfLwLGhXE3
— FSU Football (@FSUFootball) February 11, 2020
Both teams will be given the benefit of essentially a “home-away-from-home neutral-site game” on Labor Day weekend. LSU considers New Orleans to be their second home and just won the College Football Playoff National Championship game over Clemson there on January 12.
The first game with the Noles will be on Saturday night September 4th, 2022.
FSU will, then play “hosts” in Orlando against the Tigers the following year on Saturday night September 3rd. The Noles recently played a season-opening game with Ole Miss, whom they defeated, at Camping World Stadium in 2016.
New Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell had this to say in the school statement about adding the games coming soon,
“I’m excited about this series,” head coach Mike Norvell said. “Florida State has a rich tradition in Louisiana, the home of many former Seminoles including Warrick Dunn and Travis Minor, and all three of our national championship teams had at least one player from Louisiana. It continues to be an important area for us now. We added two players from Louisiana in our first signing class, and it will be great for them and other future Noles to be able to play back in their home state.
This series matches two of the iconic brands in college football, and I know our fans will have a great time in New Orleans and Orlando. I want to thank our administration for all their hard work on this and for continuing to pursue first-class experiences for our student-athletes.”
These will be the 10th and 11th times that Florida State and LSU will meet. The Noles hold a 7 – 2 advantage, including winning four straight games in the series. It is the first time the two schools will have played since 1991.
Further, Florida State is 9 – 2 in their last 11 games opening a season on a neutral field. The Seminoles were to have played Boise State in Jacksonville last Labor Day weekend, but the threat of Hurricane Dorian moved the game to Tallahasse.
That’s where the Broncos upset the Seminoles and sent coach Willie Taggart into a second year spiral that resulted in his firing in November.
The Noles are also 8 – 2 all-time in games at the Superdome with the most prominent one coming in the BCS Championship Game win over Virginia Tech in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.
Deion tells Dan Patrick he’d consider coaching Hurricanes
NFL Hall of Famer and former Seminoles All-American defensive back Deion Sanders is making the rounds for broadcast outlets at Super Bowl 54 in Miami,. And it’s not just his NFL Network duties that made some news on Tuesday. Rather, it’s an interview, where he expressed more desire for coaching college football and maybe, even in the city where he currently is working this week.
Sanders appeared on The Dan Patrick television – radio show Tuesday in advance of the 49ers and the Chiefs meeting for pro football’s title at Hard Rock stadium Sunday night.
— Dan Patrick Show (@dpshow) January 28, 2020
And, while most of the interview centered around the NFL and the Super Bowl match-up, Patrick naturally turned to Deion’s desire to apparently be a head coach in college football and maybe, as soon as next year.
This subject came up after Sanders was apparently under consideration to possibly be the new head coach at FSU, when they fired Willie Taggart in early November. The school and AD David Coburn did confirm that they had a serious formal discussion with “Prime Time” about building a staff, etc.
That’s when Patrick turn the questioning to Sanders’ son and what might test his loyalty to FSU and possibly, coaching at a hated-rival like the University of Miami.
“What if ‘The U’ called?” Patrick asked.
“You know what is so funny, cuz I saw that when I was watching you on television (earlier in the day when Patrick said he would ask Sanders about Miami). My son is a phenomenal quarterback. My youngest son. He has a plethora of offers. We’re going to visit ‘The U’ on Saturday,” Sanders said.
“But would you coach the U?,” Patrick quickly asked again.
“You know what. You never know,” Sanders replied leaving the door open, like most do.
“Are you a ‘package deal’ with your son,” asked Patrick?
“I’ve never been a package deal with any-body,” Sanders shot back, which drew laughter from the studio audience at Patrick’s Super Bowl show site.
Now, the Hurricanes have obviously floundered for much of the 2010s, including 2019 with first-year coach Manny Diaz struggling mightily down the stretch of his first season. Miami lost it’s final two games to finish 6 – 6, and then, were shutout humiliatingly by Louisiana Tech 14 – 0 in the Independence Bowl.
Miami has swapped offensive coordinators after Diaz fired Dan Enos after just his first season. The Canes have hired former Auburn and SMU play-caller Rhett Lashlee to replace him. And, they secured Houston dual threat transfer QB D’Eriq King for this season.
Sanders was a two-time All-American at Florida State (1987, ’88), and won the Jim Thorpe Award during his final season playing for the Seminoles in 1988. He was selected in the first round of the 1989 draft by the Atlanta Falcons and played in the NFL through the 2005 season.
His elite level of play earned him inductions into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sanders has been analyst for the NFL Network for the past 10 years and clearly has the desire to try something else.