Thinking about Baylor football coach Art Briles, as related to the rumors that Texas is interested in him and he would be interested in Texas, led me to Occam’s Razor.
Occam’s Razor is the principal that among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Put another way, the simplest or most logical solution is usually the correct one.
Here’s what I mean: In the world as I know it and can interpret it, Briles would turn away any interest from Texas because 1) he recently signed a 10-year contract as Baylor prepares to 2) open a new football stadium in 2014. And, besides that, 3) Baylor defeated Texas in three of the last four seasons, 4) Baylor is currently preparing to play in a BCS bowl while Texas preps for the Alamo Bowl, indicating that 5) Baylor is currently in a better position to compete for a national championship than Texas.
You see, only one of those five points — that the Bears are closer to winning a national championship than the Longhorns — is even close to an assumption. At least this season Baylor was much closer, so that’s not really even an assumption.
Others don’t see it that way, though.
On Sunday, newly hired Austin American Statesman reporter Brian Davis tweeted the following: “Attn Baylor fans: Go back and read Briles quotes from @CraigSmoak. Look at what he didn’t say. Yes, he’d take the UT job.” Davis and Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls ran with the anonymous-sourced tidbit that Briles was among six to eight coaches Texas has vetted so far in its coaching search. Two other anonymous sources went so far as to say Briles would take the job if Texas offered. Thus the specificity of Davis’ tweet.
But that’s where Occam’s Razaor comes in to play. Briles becoming the next Texas football coach involves the assumptions that 1) Texas would offer and 2) Briles wants the job so much that he would be willing to 3) discard the five previously mentioned reasons for him to stay at Baylor. That’s not even factoring in the amount if ill will that would be involved in such a move.
Is it possible Texas could tempt Briles away? Sure. It’s a more prestigious and potentially better-paying gig. But Briles didn’t sound like a person flirting with Texas when he was asked about the rumors following practice on Sunday in Tucson, Ariz.
“Anybody can say anything, you know,” Briles said. “I learned a long time ago, I think it was believe none of what you hear and half of what you read. And I know that our total focus is on beating UCF (in the Fiesta Bowl) and that’s the way it’s going to be. I mean, if I did anything that was not on that (it) would be detrimental to our football team and our university and I’m never going to do that. I’m privileged and honored to be the head coach at Baylor University, I can promise you that.”
Briles continued to sound like a man staying put in his Fiesta Bowl media day press conference. Granted, he’s not going to sit in front of a Fiesta Bowl banner and announce he’s been talking to Texas. But Briles spoke consistently about taking Baylor to the next level of winning a national championship. He said he wants to see Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty carry the load in doing that next season.
When Baylor president Ken Starr showed up at the press conference, Briles mentioned that the grass has been green at Baylor since Starr arrived; perhaps an indication that Briles doesn’t think the grass is greener in Austin.
Davis’ point was that Briles didn’t come right out and say “I’m not going to Texas.” Why didn’t he say that? Davis is assuming it’s because Briles would leave Baylor for Texas. Not just that Briles has his ears open when Texas is talking, but that when it comes to that job, Briles would take it in a heartbeat. And I imagine, since Davis is willing to tweet so aggressively on the subject, he believes he has pretty good sources.
Still, it’s the kind of assumption that would be a deal breaker in Occam’s Razor logic.
Photo by The Live Ball author Chad Conine.