Art Briles out at Grambling less than 1 week after being hired

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Art Briles‘ tenure as offensive coordinator at Grambling State is over less than a week after it started.

The former disgraced Baylor coach said he didn’t want to be a “distraction” at the prominent HBCU with a storied football program in northern Louisiana, leaving the program just five days after he was surprisingly hired by coach Hue Jackson.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of your coaching staff at Grambling State University,” Briles said in a statement. “Unfortunately, I feel that my continued presence will be a distraction to you and your team, which is the last thing that I want. I have the utmost respect (for) the university, and your players.”

Briles has been a pariah in college football since 2016, when he was fired by Baylor after an investigation concluded he and his staff took no action against players named in sexual assault allegations.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Grambling asked Briles to resign or the coach did so on his own.

The baggage surrounding Briles was well-known, but that didn’t stop Jackson from making the hire last week. The 66-year-old Briles coached briefly in Italy and then at a Texas high school after he was dismissed from Baylor.

Grambling’s decision received renewed attention Monday when a three-day old social media statement from the Hue Jackson Foundation gained traction. It was the latest in an avalanche of criticism for the university.

The foundation’s statement said that Briles’ hiring “will be instrumental in teaching others teaching others the importance of knowing how to prevent victimization, proper reporting procedures, provide adequate resources to individuals who have been victimized and develop strong law enforcement partnerships within the community.”

Former Grambling quarterback Doug Williams – the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl with Washington in 1988 – was one of many who voiced his displeasure with the school’s decision to hire Briles in the first place. The NFL executive with the Washington Commanders said the foundation’s statement didn’t sway his opinion.

“I don’t know what you get from that statement,” Williams told the AP. “I don’t think anything needs to be added. Everybody knows what I think about it. I’m not going to change.”

In the Baylor case, the NCAA infractions panel stated that Briles “failed to meet even the most basic expectations of how a person should react to the kind of conduct at issue in this case. Furthermore, as a campus leader, the head coach is held to an even higher standard. He completely failed to meet this standard.”

Baylor paid Briles more than $15 million after firing him. He later acknowledged making mistakes and apologized for “some bad things” that happened under his watch.

This isn’t the first time a coach has attempted to hire Briles since 2016. Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson attempted to hire Briles as the program’s offensive coordinator in 2019, though university administration eventually vetoed it.

Briles was considered one of the top offensive coaches in the country when he led Baylor from 2008-15, leading the program to a 65-37 record. His spread offense kept the Bears regularly ranked in the AP Top 25 and the program had four 10-win seasons in a five-year span from 2011-15.

Jackson is the former head coach of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”

Pac-12 looking stronger at top after early-season losses

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When Oregon got throttled by top-ranked Georgia and Utah lost at Florida, it appeared as though the Pac-12 was headed toward another College Football Playoff miss.

One week into the season and two of the conference’s top teams had already failed big early tests.

Flash forward three weeks and it seems the Pac-12 might be in good shape after all.

The Ducks and Utes bounced back with big wins and the top of the conference looks strong, with four teams in the top 15 for the first time since 2016.

It’s still early, but the Pac-12 is putting itself in position to get a team through to the CFP for the first time since Washington in 2016-17.

A look at how the top of the Pac-12 is stacking up headed into the first weekend of October:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

The No. 6 Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) seem to have quickly returned to glory in their first season under Lincoln Riley. The former Oklahoma coach brought quarterback Caleb Williams with him to Southern California and they have thrived through the first four games.

Williams has thrown for 1,054 yards and nine touchdowns, adding 100 yards and two more scores rushing. USC’s defense has been opportunistic, leading the nation with 11 interceptions while tied for the lead with 14 takeaways.

The Trojans survived a scare against scrappy Oregon State over the weekend to start 4-0 for the first time since 2012. USC has to play at Utah on Oct. 15, but avoids Washington and Oregon this season.

UTAH

The 12th-ranked Utes opened the season with a tough road loss at The Swamp in Florida, but have won three straight lopsided games.

Outside of a costly interception late against the Gators, quarterback Cam Rising has been sharp, throwing for 954 yards and 10 TDs. Utah (3-1, 1-0) has a physical defense and is third in the FBS, allowing 132.8 yards passing per game.

The Utes also have a veteran team that won the Pac-12 championship last season. The bad news: tight end Brant Kuithe, their leading receiver, is out for the season with a knee injury.

Utah plays Oregon State this weekend and has tough games against USC and Oregon still on the schedule.

OREGON

The Ducks’ playoff chances took an immediate hit with a 49-3 loss to reigning national champion Georgia in their opener.

No. 13 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) bounced back with a decisive win over a good BYU team and outlasted previously undefeated Washington State 44-41 last week.

The Ducks were no match for the Bulldogs in any aspect – few teams are – but have averaged 51.6 points the past three games. Oregon’s biggest weakness is its pass defense. The Ducks are allowing 72.5% of passes to be completed, third worst in the country.

Oregon’s biggest tests left in the season will come in back to back games against Washington and Utah.

WASHINGTON

The Huskies have made a quick turnaround in their first season under coach Kalen DeBoer.

Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been superb now that he’s healthy, throwing for an FBS-best 1,388 yards and 12 TDs with one interception. No. 15 Washington (4-0, 1-0) picked up a solid home win against Michigan State and has 15 sacks this season, including eight against Stanford last week.

The Huskies play their first road game at undefeated UCLA on Saturday and have to face Oregon on Nov. 12.

UCLA

After winning at Colorado for the first time since 2014 last Saturday, the Bruins (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) have their longest winning streak since winning the first eight games in 2005.

UCLA had a hard time getting past South Alabama and opened its Pac-12 schedule with a win against the struggling Buffaloes.

The Bruins will find out how good they are over the next three weeks, a brutal stretch that includes home games against Washington and Utah before heading to Eugene to play the Ducks on Oct. 22.