It didn’t take long for Baylor football players — past, present and future — to take to social media to share their reactions to the dismissal of Bears head football coach Art Briles on Thursday.
“Will forever love coach Briles...he changed my life thank you coach” junior linebacker Taylor Young posted on his Twitter account.
“People are so quick to judge a book by its cover,” former Baylor safety Terrell Burt tweeted. “Of course, we care about the girls but nobody truly knows how it went down so why talk.”
Ppl are so quick to judge a book by its cover. Of course we care about the girls but tbh nobody truly knows how it went down so why talk— Terrell Burt (@terrell_burt_13) May 26, 2016
Briles was fired following the release of a report from the Pepper Hamilton law firm documenting the mishandling of several reported sexual assaults regarding Baylor football players. The findings of the report also resulted in the removal of Ken Starr as Baylor University president and the probation of athletic director Ian McCaw.
Briles compiled a 65-37 record since his hiring in 2007, helping resurrect a struggling Bears football program. Under his watch, they made six straight bowl appearances from 2010-15.
He informed his players of the news via text message Thursday.
“To current and former players, hurtful to report there’s a release coming out at 11 a.m. and it’s to declare that I’m no longer the football coach at Baylor University,” the text read.
“Due to this early release I’m sorry that I can’t talk to y’all in person. It looks (like) the remainder of the staff will stay intact which is beneficial to y’all.
“I sincerely appreciate your love trust and loyalty. Stay strong, stay motivated, stay faithful. La ya forever. #Family.”
Current players were quick to express their discontent with the decision on Twitter.
“I’m forever with you and by your side.#ArtBriles,” junior running back Johnny Jefferson said.
I'm forever with You, and by your side ... #ArtBriles— Johnny jefferson (@johnnyjeff05) May 26, 2016
“Best coach in America...They will never understand,” senior safety Taion Sells said.
“In my life I have always had 2 prove people wrong and Coach B you gave me the chance to 2 do that again. Thank you,” senior safety Orion Stewart said.
@OStewBU amen! Play for him! That fire he has in all of you can bring us to the top— Julie Andrews (@txbearmom) May 26, 2016
Incoming freshmen for the 2016 team are scheduled to report Monday. They can still ask for a release from their scholarship if they have not yet enrolled.
Kameron Martin, a four-star signee at running back, says he remains committed to Baylor but is still weighing his options. He praised Briles for the relationship they built during his recruitment.
“He was one of the realest coaches that I’ve ever met,” Martin told the Tribune-Herald Thursday afternoon. “I love coach Briles to death, and my loyalty is to Baylor. I’m going to just pray on it. I’m going to just pray on it and we’ll go from there.”
A 2017 commit, Kedrick James at nearby La Vega, announced his decommitment from Baylor on Thursday on Twitter, citing the Briles’ dismissal as the reason for reopening his recruitment.
James announced his decision on Twitter Thursday afternoon.
“Due to the departure of Coach Briles, I’d like to open my recruiting and decommit from Baylor,” James said. “Thank u Baylor staff esp Coach Lebby & Bedell.”
Due to the departure of Coach Briles, I'd like to open my recruiting and decommit from Baylor. Thank u Baylor staff esp Coach Lebby & Bedell— Kedrick James (@kedrickjames044) May 26, 2016
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound James is a four-star recruit ranked eighth in the nation at tight end by 247sports.com. He has offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, among others.
James was a part of La Vega’s 2015 Class 4A Division I state championship team that finished 16-0 last season.
Tribune-Herald reporter John Werner contributed to this story.