Texas A&M hires Dennis FranchionePosted: Thursday December 05, 2002 3:53 PM
Updated: Friday December 06, 2002 1:03 AM
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- Dennis Franchione didn't have much to say about becoming the new football coach at Texas A&M.
Franchione landed in a private jet Thursday afternoon and was whisked into an awaiting car for a short ride to the A&M campus.
"I'll talk to all of you tomorrow," he said.
Erle Nye, chairman of the Texas A&M board of regents, confirmed Franchione had agreed to a deal with the Aggies to replace R.C. Slocum, fired Monday by president Robert Gates after a 6-6 finish this season and a 50-20 loss to Texas.
"We made great strides under coach Slocum," Nye said. "R.C. brought us all this and I think Coach Fran will do the same and we will go forward."
Franchione leaves Alabama less than a year after the school was hit this year with harsh NCAA sanctions.
Texas A&M scheduled a news conference for 9:30 a.m. EST Friday to announce the hiring.
The 51-year-old Franchione and new Aggies athletic director Bill Byrne landed in a private jet at A&M on Thursday afternoon and strolled down a crimson carpet that had the Aggies' logo on it.
Byrne also declined to answer questions about the new coach.
"We're going to have an announcement tomorrow and I want it to be a surprise," Byrne joked.
Nye expects Franchione to take the Aggies to a higher level.
"Any coach is going to be different from the last coach and I'm suggesting he's any smarter or any different," Nye said of Franchione. "If we both play golf and get the same score we might get their in different ways. I think that's healthy.
"I think testing out new ideas and prospects will be good."
Franchione -- 25-11 at TCU from 1998-2000 and 17-8 in two years at Alabama -- had been noncommittal on his plans in recent weeks.
He dismissed reports in Texas newspapers that he would be the Aggies' new coach and called one "idiotic." He said he had "never wavered" on his intentions to return to Alabama next season but never promised he would stay.
"The first week they brought it up, he was just like, 'Don't worry about it. Just focus on the game,"' Alabama center Alonzo Ephraim said. "That's just his personal life. I don't think it will hurt our program."
Mike McKenzie, who edits Franchione's Web site, said Thursday that Franchione told him he planned to have the position coaches notify the Crimson Tide players and he wouldn't return to meet the team.
Franchione's deal caps a tumultuous week at A&M, beginning with Slocum's firing and the hiring of Byrne on Tuesday.
Nye said the school and Franchione had agreed to many terms of a contract, including duration and salary.
The A&M board of regents has proposed a five-year contract for Franchione to take over the Aggies' football program, the Houston Chronicle reported. The offer to Franchione was believed to be worth $10 million to $11 million.
Despite a 10-3 record this season, Alabama isn't eligible for a bowl game because it is on NCAA probation due to recruiting violations that took place before Franchione was hired.
Franchione met for about three hours Wednesday with Alabama athletic director Mal Moore and members of the Alabama board of trustees, then left without commenting.
Franchione canceled speaking engagements Wednesday night in Columbus, Ga., and on Thursday in Montgomery, Ala.
Moore said he granted A&M officials permission to talk to Franchione but wanted the coach to stay with the Crimson Tide.
Franchione's Alabama contract was through 2007 at $1.1 million per season plus incentives. He was offered an extension reportedly worth $15 million over 10 years.
Slocum, who has spent all but one season since 1972 on the A&M coaching staff, has three years remaining on a seven-year contract worth $1 million annually. A&M president Robert Gates said Slocum accepted an offer to remain at the university as his special adviser.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.