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Oklahoma moving to 2-0 on the season after knocking off SMU at home wasn’t the biggest story to come out of Norman over the weekend. Instead, the headline following Saturday’s game was Sooners offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby talking with former Baylor head coach Art Briles on the field.
Briles’ name carries baggage, and a lot of it, as he was the head coach of the Bears during the rape allegations and scandal involving the football program before eventually being fired in 2016. Lebby was a member of the Baylor staff during that time as well.
Briles also happens to be Lebby’s father-in-law, as the OC is married to Briles’ daughter, Staley.
The NCAA conducted a five-year investigation into Baylor’s sexual assault reporting standards and “could not conclude that Baylor violated NCAA rules when it failed to report allegations of and address sexual and interpersonal violence committed on its campus” in 2021.
Briles was made the face of one of the worst scandals in college sports history, and has since paid for it by essentially being banished from college football, but ultimately had his name cleared by the NCAA’s own investigation.
Regardless of the NCAA’s stance, the damage had already been done, and Briles being on the field, in Oklahoma gear no less, ruffled the feathers of many Sooners fans. Sports Illustrated called Briles “a toxic figure” in a column published on Sunday titled ‘Family Or Not, Art Briles Has No Place On Oklahoma’s Sideline.’
During his postgame press conference on Saturday, Lebby was asked if he specifically reached out to Briles and invited him onto the sideline. Lebby made it clear that he is a family man, stating multiple times that Briles is “the grandfather to my two kids.”
Guerin Emig, the columnist who asked the initial question, added his own opinion to the mix stating “I think there’s going to be people squaring that a little bit” before Lebby made his intentions clear for a second time.
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione didn’t appreciate Briles’ presence in Norman on Saturday. After being made aware of Briles being on the field and the fierce backlash from Sooner fans, Castiglione released a statement hinting at the fact that it wouldn’t happen again.
“I was just as disappointed as many of our fans when I learned of the postgame situation tonight. It shouldn’t have happened and it was my expectation it never would, based on boundaries we previously set. I’ve addressed it with the appropriate staff,” the statement read.
Despite the Oklahoma AD not exactly hiding his opinion about Briles, Lebby has committed to the other side of the coin by changing his social media profile pictures to a photo of himself, his two kids, and Briles standing on what appears to be Oklahoma’s field.
Before joining the Oklahoma staff ahead of last season, Lebby was the offensive coordinator at Ole Miss. Briles is the current head coach of Guelfi Firenze in the Italian Football League.