Baylor AD McCaw: Briles’ hiring brought death threats

Baylor Bears head coach Art Briles

Mark J. Rebilas/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Art Briles has turned Baylor from a laughingstock into a Big 12 champion. Not everybody around Waco was a believer from the start.

When Bears athletic director Ian McCaw hired him from Houston instead of then-49ers assistant Mike Singletary, he met plenty of pushback.

A sizeable portion of Baylor’s fan base hoped to see the legendary Baylor linebacker come home to revive Floyd Casey Stadium, but instead, it was Briles.

McCaw said he didn’t feel like Singletary was the best fit.

"I got death threats," McCaw says in Art Briles’ new book, "Beating Goliath." "I lost 10 pounds in eight days."

McCaw later admitted he knew 10 minutes into Briles’ three-hour interview that Baylor had its No. 1 target. He called Briles a "turnaround specialist" who rebuilt Houston’s football program and turned Stephenville High School in Texas into a juggernaut at the high school level.

Briles recounts his road through life and coaching in his book, which is scheduled for a July 15 release.

FOX Sports Southwest was provided with an advance copy this week.

Briles opens up about his parents’ death in the book, as well as its effect on him. They died in an accident on US Highway 380 between Briles’ hometown of Rule and Dallas, where they were traveling to see him play a game against SMU in the Cotton Bowl.

Briles recounts not seeing his family in the stands and being told the news soon after the game ended.

In the book he reflects on the silence of the Houston locker room after the win. Word had spread through the team by the time Briles rejoined his team.

As much as he’s driven around Texas coaching high school and recruiting the state as a college coach, Briles says in the book he’s never driven that part of Highway 380.

"I’ll never torture myself like that," he writes.

Briles co-authored the book with former Sports Illustrated associate editor Don Yaeger.

Briles also touches on his brother Eddie’s death last November and their relationship growing up and in the aftermath of their parents’ death. His father was the mayor of Rule and the high school principal when he died, and the town opened up businesses the Sunday after the Houston-SMU game so he and Eddie could begin making arrangements for their parents’ funeral as well as his aunt Tottie, who also died in the crash.

Briles writes about growing up in Abilene and eventually Rule, Texas and after his college career at Houston and Texas Tech, developing and perfecting the balanced, uptempo, spread offense that’s become his resume’s hallmark.

Part of Briles’ road to resurrecting Baylor was leaving the job security of a Stephenville legend to take a job as a college assistant on Mike Leach’s staff at Texas Tech. His high school background paid off then and still does now.

"I was one of them. They could trust me," Briles writes. "And if you don’t think that’s important, you don’t really understand how Texas football works."

On trying to build Baylor early on: "We were looking for guys who slept on no sheets, rather than silk sheets."

Near the end of the book, there’ an entire page of humorous, folksy nuggets that have become known as "Briles-isms."

Briles also devotes a whole chapter to Robert Griffin III’s recruitment, career and impact at Baylor, and he also delves into how his coaching philosophy was tested with NFL receivers Donnie Avery at Houston and Josh Gordon at Baylor.

Avery wanted to quit to focus on fatherhood and Gordon’s history with marijuana arrests followed a failed test meant he could no longer attend Baylor, despite teammates Griffin III, Elliot Coffey and Terrance Ganaway interceding on his behalf and even requesting he be allowed to stay at Baylor as a student if he couldn’t play football.

Then receivers coach Dino Babers helped Gordon find a home at Utah, but he reportedly failed an additional drug test before returning home to Houston and working low-paying jobs until being selected in the 2012 NFL Supplemental Draft.

"When you have young men like Gordon, it’s almost like a duty you have to them to make sure they fulfill their destiny," Briles writes.

Gordon says the two still frequently text and Gordon considers himself a product of the Baylor program, despite his dismissal.

"I did everything I could to support him," Briles writes.

The book earns its title from Briles’ penchant for rebuilding small programs and claiming a spot among the elite, which culminated in Baylor’s Big 12 title in 2013 and provides the inspiration for the book’s final paragraph.

"We become the giant and stay the giant," Briles writes. "We don’t just roar and snarl and then get knocked off by David."