Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby is doubling down on his relationship with disgraced former Baylor football coach Art Briles amid looming controversy. It’s not a great look for the university.
UPDATE: Jeff Lebby began Monday’s press conference with a prepared statement about the ongoings.
The Sooners’ 39-year-old play-caller is married to Briles’ daughter, Staley. Art is Lebby’s father-in-law.
Briles, 67, is currently the head coach of the Guelfi Firenze in the Italian Football League. He was on the sideline in Norman with Lebby following Saturday’s win over Southern Methodist.
Prior to his time with the Italian League, and a short stint with a high school football program in Texas, Briles was the head football coach at Baylor University from 2008-2015. He is synonymous with one of the most distressing scandals in college
football sports history.
The Bears football program faced intense scrutiny during his tenure due to a large number of sexual assault and rape allegations involving its players. Some of them were convicted for their actions. Briles was ultimately fired by Baylor in 2016 after an independent investigation revealed a deeply flawed response to sexual assault reports.
Multiple lawsuits were filed against the school and its athletic department, which included Briles. It was determined that university officials failed to take action on the alleged assaults.
University president Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw also resigned. Briles has maintained his innocence throughout and was not punished by the NCAA after an investigation into the program.
Regardless of what Briles contends, his name is too toxic to be involved with any college football program. Lebby was at Baylor during the scandal. Former student Dolores Lozano claimed that she contacted the then-running backs coach after being slapped, kicked, choked and slammed against a wall by one of his ball-carriers.
However, his actual knowledge and involvement is unclear and he was ultimately cleared in the investigation. Following Briles’ ouster, though, Lebby was one of his father-in-law’s most vocal supporters and rallied support in his favor.
Jeff Lebby was frustrated by the backlash.
Briles being on the field at Oklahoma, in team-issued gear, ruffled a lot of feathers. Understandably so.
Lebby defended Briles being on the field after the game and pointed to family. His tone was sharp, to say the least.
Head coach Brent Venables said that he was not aware of what happened.
I was made aware just before I came in here (for postgame interviews) that he was, and I think that’s being dealt with — and already has been.— Brent Venables
When asked in postgame about what he would say to the fans who spoke out against Briles’ appearance, Venables was a bit caught off guard.
I don’t really — I have had no time to think about any of that.— Brent Venables
Athletic director Joe Castiglione did not back up Lebby’s actions. He alluded to the idea that there was a preexisting agreement to keep Briles away from the program.
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.— Joe Castiglione
When asked again about Briles’ time on the field, Lebby took a similar front.
Well, again. He’s with his entire family. He’s the grandfather to my two kids.— Jeff Lebby
And then Jeff Lebby doubled down.
Less than 24 hours after the controversy first started to make waves, one day after his press conference and the athletic director’s comments, Lebby changed both of his profile pictures on Facebook and Instagram. The photo shows him, his children, and Briles on the field at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium before the game.
He also shared a similar photo on his Instagram story.
It is almost as if Lebby is daring Venables and Castiglione to do something.