In five seasons, Art Briles has returned Baylor football to national prominence and solidified the Bears proud football program for future success.
His short tenure in Waco has produced a program-record three straight bowl games, the school's first back-to-back bowl wins in 25 years, a Heisman trophy and has resulted in the current construction of a state-of-the-art $260 million on-campus, riverfront stadium. Interest and respect for Baylor's football program is at a decades-high level.
Over the past three seasons, Briles' squads have won 25 games, the most in any three-year span in program history.
Briles' program proved its solid foundation during the 2012 season, when despite the departure of Heisman Trophy-winner Robert Griffin III and five NFL Draft picks from its record-breaking 2011 squad, the Bears finished 8-5, including a dominating 49-26 Holiday Bowl win over No. 17 UCLA.
The 2012 Bears finished second nationally in total offense (572.3 ypg), and boasted offensive standouts Nick Florence (second in nation in total offense - 375.2 ypg), unanimous All-American and Biletnikoff Award finalist Terrance Williams (led the nation with 1,832 receiving yards) and All-American offensive lineman Cyril Richardson.
Briles' 2012 squad, which finished the season with four straight victories, including three over ranked opponents, made national headlines in November when Baylor stomped No. 1-ranked Kansas State 52-24 in Waco (the school's first-ever win over the nation's top-ranked team).
A native West Texan, Briles became Baylor's 25th head coach on Nov. 28, 2007, ushering in a new era and a new attitude to the storied Bears football program. From his first game on the sidelines in Waco it was quickly clear that the Briles regime was underway at Baylor; from the innovative offense, to the reintroduction of a solid running game, to improved recruitment, to refusal to accept moral victories, and within a short time - wins, bowl games and top 25 rankings.
A solid foundation for future success and Baylor's improvement under Briles was evidenced almost immediately in his staff's recruiting - the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 signees comprise the school's highest-ranked signing classes in the Big 12 era. The 2013 signing class was ranked 25th nationally by Scout.com and 27th by 247Sports.com. A 2013 ranking by ESPN.com listed Briles third among the "Nation's top recruiting head coaches."
Briles is a proven developer of pro talent, evidenced by the NFL Draft where his protégés include a pair of first-rounders in both the 2012 (second pick QB Robert Griffin III and 20th pick WR Kendall Wright) and 2011 (21st pick DL Phil Taylor and 23rd pick OL Danny Watkins) drafts as well as the first lineman selected in 2009 (second overall pick OL Jason Smith from Baylor), the first receiver selected in 2008 (33rd pick Donnie Avery of Houston) and the third QB selected in 2007 (36th pick Kevin Kolb of UH).
His ability to recruit and coach elite quarterbacks is demonstrated by the highly successful collegiate passers Briles has mentored, including Griffin III (Baylor/Redskins), Case Keenum (Houston/Texans), Kevin Kolb (Houston/Eagles) and Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech/Jets).
During a historic record-breaking 2011 season, Briles led Baylor to a school-record 10 wins and its highest final ranking (12th) since 1986, won the school's first bowl victory in 19 years and coached the first Heisman Trophy winner in program history - Griffin III.
Briles' accomplishments were recognized when he was named a finalist for the 2011 Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year Award. The Bears finished the 2011 season with a 10-3 record, including a memorable 67-56 Alamo Bowl win over Washington, and ranked 12th (coaches) and 13th (AP) nationally. Baylor's offense set or tied 108 school records and three Bears-national player of the year RG3 as well all-time leading receiver Wright and single-season rushing leader Terrance Ganaway-earned All-America honors.
The Bears finished 2011 on a six-game winning streak. In that streak, Baylor beat No. 5 Oklahoma for the first time in program history, defeated Texas for the second consecutive season for the first time since 1991-92, knocked off Texas Tech for the first time in Big 12 play and pulled off the program's largest comeback ever with a 21-point fourth quarter rally to win in overtime at Kansas.
Briles' powerful offense ranked No. 2 nationally in 2011, averaging 587.1 yards per game, and was the only offensive unit nationally to rank in the top 10 in both passing (fourth, 351.5 ypg) and rushing (10th, 235.6 ypg).
The Bears shattered records at the turnstiles in 2011 as well, as school records for attendance (289,574 in seven games) and average attendance (41,368) were set in 2011. Baylor finished a perfect 7-0 at Floyd Casey Stadium, just the third perfect record in the stadium's history and a school record for home wins in a single season.
Briles' transformation of the Baylor football program took a major step in 2010, when he led the Bears to a 7-6 record and the school's first bowl game in 16 years. After a record-breaking season which saw Baylor spend multiple weeks ranked in the polls and break a record for Big 12 Conference victories, the Bears advanced to the 2010 Texas Bowl against Illinois - the school's first bowl game since a 1994 trip to the Alamo Bowl. Baylor's accomplishments earned Briles the 2010 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Region 4 Coach of the Year award.
Briles' Bears rolled to seven wins - the school's most since 1995 - behind a powerful offense that set or tied 55 school records (22 team and 33 individual), including total offensive yards (6,179), passing yards (3,649), average yards per rush (5.4) and scoring (405). The offense was powerful and balanced, and Baylor was one of three schools in 2010 to rank in the top 25 nationally in both rushing (24th) and passing (19th) offense.
After a promising start, the 2009 season suffered injury setbacks in the season's first month, including the season-ending loss of superstar quarterback and face-of-the-program Robert Griffin III in the third game (all told, eight different starters missed games in 2009 due to injury). The Bears remained competitive, but a season that began with a road win over ACC power Wake Forest and the team receiving votes in the AP Top 25 poll ended with a 4-8 record. The Bears notched a second impressive road victory in 2009, upsetting Missouri 40-32 in Columbia.
Briles' 2008 Bears squad finished with a 4-8 record, but six of eight defeats were at the hands of ranked opponents (four in top 10) and three losses came by a touchdown or less.
Highlights of Briles' first season at Baylor included the emergence of sensational true freshman QB Griffin III, the Big 12's top newcomer and freshman All-American, a rushing attack that ranked 21st nationally and third in the Big 12 with 195.8 yards per game (2,349 yards, most since 1981) and 29 TDs, and a memorable 41-21 home win over Texas A&M.
Baylor's 1.33 turnover margin ranked fourth nationally and junior linebacker Joe Pawelek ranked seventh nationally in tackles (10.7) and interceptions (.50).
Briles came to Baylor after resurrecting the University of Houston football program in a five-year stretch from 2003 to 2007.
After inheriting a Houston program that was just two years removed from an 0-11 season, Briles won eight total games from 2000 to 2003, posted a 34-28 record with the Cougars and guided them to four bowl games. He ranks as the program's third-winningest head coach behind College Football Hall of Famer Bill Yeoman (160 wins in 26 seasons) and Clyde Lee (37 victories in seven seasons).
Briles guided Houston to an 8-4 regular-season record and a Texas Bowl invitation in his final season (he did not coach the Cougars in the bowl game). Coupled with their 10-win 2006 campaign, the Cougars registered consecutive seasons of at least eight victories for the first time since the 1989 (nine) and 1990 (10) campaigns. The 2007 Cougars finished the season ranked fourth nationally in total offense (501.9 ypg) and made college football history by becoming the first program to produce a 300-yard receiver and a 200-yard rusher in the same game.
In 2006, Briles earned Conference USA and Sportexe Division I-A National Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Houston Cougars to a Conference USA title, a Liberty Bowl appearance and the program's first 10-win season since 1990 with a final mark of 10-4.
The Cougars enjoyed the nation's seventh-best turnaround in 2006, a four-game improvement in the win column over their 6-6 mark in 2005. Houston's 2006 C-USA title, just five years removed from a winless 2001 campaign, marked only the fifth time in the past 30 seasons that a I-A program went from winless to conference champions.
One of nine finalists for the 2006 Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year award, Briles' offense led Conference USA and ranked sixth nationally at 439.9 yards per game. Cougar quarterback Kevin Kolb was Conference USA's consensus 2006 Offensive Player of the Year, as 13 Houston student-athletes earned postseason honors from the media and 12 were honored by the league's coaches. Kolb ended his career ranked third in NCAA history for total offense and fourth in passing yards.
Briles' 2005 UH team finished 6-6 overall, led Conference USA in total offense and played in the Fort Worth Bowl, and his 2004 squad was 3-8.
His rookie season at UH saw the Cougars make school history; as they finished 7-6 and earned a berth in the 2003 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl. He became just the second UH head coach to take Houston to a bowl game in his first season at the helm, joining Yeoman, his college coach. Briles' innovative offense produced a 1,000-yard rusher (Anthony Evans), a 1,000-yard receiver (Brandon Middleton) and a 3,000-yard passer (Kolb)-one of only five Division I-A teams to accomplish that feat.
Briles arrived to Houston from Texas Tech, where he spent three years (2000-02) as the Red Raiders' running backs coach. The Tech ground game flourished under Briles' direction, increasing its production every year and producing a 2001 first-team All-Big 12 performer in Ricky Williams. The Red Raiders won seven or more games each season Briles was on Mike Leach's staff and went bowling every year.
Prior to moving into the collegiate coaching ranks at Texas Tech, Briles spent 12 seasons (1988-99) as head coach and athletic director at Stephenville [Texas] High School. His Yellowjacket teams won four state championships, capturing back-to-back crowns in 1993 and 1994 and repeating that feat in 1998 and 1999.
Briles, a former Texas High School Coaches Association president, has spent his entire coaching career in the state of Texas. Following in his father's footsteps, Briles began his coaching career as an assistant at Sundown [Texas] High School in 1979 before moving to Sweetwater [Texas] High School as an assistant from 1980-83. He landed his first head coaching job at Hamlin [Texas] High School (1984-86), where he also served as athletic director.
From Hamlin, Briles went to Georgetown [Texas] High School as head coach and athletic director for two seasons (1986-87) before moving to Stephenville in 1988. While coaching in the high school ranks, Briles developed six Division I quarterbacks and had five signal callers throw for over 3,000 yards in a season.
A former wide receiver for the Cougars from 1974 to 1977, Briles was a member of Houston's 1976 squad that captured the Southwest Conference championship in its first season in the league. He later played in the 1977 Cotton Bowl against fifth-ranked Maryland, a game the Cougars won, 30-21.
He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Texas Tech in 1979 and a Masters of Education degree from Abilene Christian in 1984.
A Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame inductee for his West Texas exploits, Briles and his wife, Jan, have three children: Jancy, a UH graduate who works in the Dallas Cowboys Public Relations office; Kendal, a Cougar letterman and UH graduate who serves as an assistant coach on his father's Baylor staff; and Staley Lebby, a UH graduate and wife of Baylor assistant coach Jeff Lebby. Briles was inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame in April 2008.
THE BRILES FILE
Dec. 3, 1955
Rule [Texas] HS
Texas Tech, 1979 (B.A.) Abilene Christian 1984 (M.E.)