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Volume 68, Issue 72, Monday, December 9, 2002


Briles returns to UH after 26-year hiatus, 
welcomes challenge

By Ed De La Garza
The Daily Cougar

If nothing else, at least new football head coach Art Briles will have the support of the Cougar fanbase.

With Fridayis introduction to the UH community. Athletics Director Dave Maggard concluded his 11-day search for the 10th head coach in 56 years. But for Briles, it was far less an introduction than it was a coming home party.

"Giving back to the Cougar family has been a lifelong dream of mine," Briles said. "It makes me feel gracious, makes me feel humble and shoot, Iim ready to work tirelessly to get the Cougar tradition back like it needs to be, like it can be, like it will be."

Photo courtesy of UH Sports Information

Art Briles, shown here during his playing days at UH (1974-77), came back to the University to be the Cougarsi new head coach.

Briles played for the Cougars from 1974-77. His parents died en route to watch him play during the i76 season, and while Briles played in the i77 Cotton Bowl, he left the school that spring semester to sort out his life following the tragedy. He continued his education at Texas Tech University, attaining his Bachelor of Arts degree in i79. He went back to Texas Tech in i99, where he served as running backs coach for three years.

Though heis 26 years removed from his days on campus, Briles stressed his desire to lead his former school back to the days of national prominence.

"I bled the blood. I understand what it takes here," Briles said. "I have love for the school, and Iill cherish every moment that Iim going to be here just like I did then."

His former coach, Bill Yeoman, had Maggardis attention throughout the search process. Maggard said Yeomanis eyes lit up at the first mention of Brilesi name as a potential candidate.

"He resonates everything that is good as far as the game is concerned in the state of Texas," Yeoman said. "His interest in the University of Houston has never waned an iota. Now weire gonna check your actions out, young fella, because youire going to get a chance."

While Maggard was leaning toward bringing a former Cougar back, he was quick to point out that ties to the University werenit the most important criteria.

"Just being someone from UH, thatis not all of it, but thatis certainly part of it," Maggard said. "You see the way people embrace him. Former players all have respect for him. If he canit coach and he canit recruit then that really doesnit count, but he can do all of those things too."

Briles, who assumed his new duties Friday, was to meet with Maggard concerning Dimelis staff, but he envisioned bringing in two or three high school coaches as well as possibly two former players to round out his assistants.

He will be charged with not only restoring some of that lost Cougar pride, but with restoring some of the programis luster, and in light of sparse crowds, make it appealing to the rest of the UH community

"The success of the football program is the key to the success of our athletics effort. We have to get people to come to the stadium and get students to come to the games. To engage the students and the fans we have to have a successful program" UH President Arthur Smith said.

Itis a challenge Briles seems willing to accept.

"The way itis fallen off over the years it motivates me more to want to get it back," Briles said. "It doesnit bother me that things havenit gone perfectly, that attendance is down and things along those lines. It inspires me to try to help lift it to the level I think it can be and will be at."

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