Former Baylor Bears head coach Art Briles returned to coaching Friday night by leading his Mount Vernon Tigers to a 44-16 victory over the Bonham Warriors in Texas high school action.
"I just want to coach football," Briles told reporters after coaching his first game in the United States since leading Baylor to a 10-3 record in 2015.
He was fired by the school in May 2016 following an investigation into the program's handling of sexual assault allegations against its players. The 63-year-old Texas native, who briefly coached Guelfi Firenze in France, said he didn't pay attention to criticism of his return to the sideline in the United States.
"You know, honestly, I haven't looked or noticed," Briles said. "Y'all don't wanna believe it, but I just like to coach football. That's all I pay attention to, and that's all I've ever done. People can think and say whatever they want to think and say. I have no control over that."
Briles started his coaching career as an assistant at Texas' Sundown High School in 1979 and served as a head coach at three schools in the state—Hamlin High School, Georgetown High School and Stephenville High School—before making a jump to the college ranks as a Texas Tech Red Raiders assistant in 2000.
After five years as the Houston Cougars' head coach starting in 2003, he accepted the Baylor job in 2008 and spent eight years creating a successful on-field product.
The Bears posted a .637 winning percentage (65-37) during his tenure and finished 13th or better in the final Associated Press poll in four of his final five seasons.
Baylor's Board of Regents announced in May 2016 an independent investigation raised "significant concerns about the tone and culture within Baylor's football program as it relates to accountability for all forms of student athlete misconduct," which led to Briles' firing.
"We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus," Board of Regents chairman Richard Willis said at the time. "This investigation revealed the University's mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students."
Briles explained his feelings to reporters about the chance to restart his coaching career:
"You know, I've got so many [emotions]. A lot of mine are personal, and nothing to do with anything that's happened other than through my father, because he coached all his life and he never got to see me coach, never got to see me get married, never got to be around me. That's the emotion I go with, because I want to share that with other people. I want them to understand how precious each day is and how you should always be grateful if you're given an opportunity."
Mount Vernon is on the road again next week when it takes on the Farmersville Farmers before the Tigers play their home opener Sept. 13 against the Canton Eagles.