SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
11/23/2007 09:17:00 PM
Fran Steps Down; Will A&M Land Tubs?
Dennis Franchione stepped down after going 32-28 in five seasons.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In the span of an hour Friday, the college football coaching carousel began spinning at dizzying speed.
First, LSU lost to Arkansas, presumably moving up the date of Les Miles' anticipated departure for Michigan. Then, at a press conference following his team's 38-30 win over Texas, oft-criticized Aggies coach Dennis Franchione announced his resignation.
Franchione's ouster comes as no surprise -- the only question was whether the decision would come from him or the school. Judging from the immediacy of his announcement, one can assume he and A&M officials worked out some sort of buyout prior to the game. They've had plenty of time to work on it; the writing has been on the wall for Franchione ever since the late-September disclosure of his secret "VIP Newsletter" for Aggies boosters.
Even without that scandal, the fifth-year coach would still likely be toast. A&M was not paying him $2 million a year to go 7-5.
After enjoying success at previous stops New Mexico, TCU and Alabama (briefly), Franchione's tenure in College Station was largely disappointing. From an embarrassing 77-0 loss to Oklahoma in his 2003 debut season to lopsided bowl losses against Tennessee (2005 Cotton Bowl) and Cal (2006 Holiday Bowl) to a humiliating Thursday night smackdown at Miami earlier this year, his teams consistently seemed outclassed by elite competition.
Beating Texas these past two seasons will go down as his lone highlights.
From all indications, Texas A&M has already set its sights on Auburn's Tommy Tuberville as Franchione's successor. Sometime in the coming days, after the Tigers' season finale against Alabama on Saturday, AD Bill Byrne will likely present Tuberville with a highly lucrative offer (one thing A&M certainly does not lack is deep-pocketed boosters). It remains to be seen whether Tuberville is seriously interested in the job -- which seems like a lateral move, at best -- or is simply using it as leverage to land his own Nick Saban-like contract at Auburn.
Whether it's Tuberville or someone else, A&M seems hell-bent on landing a big name, whatever the cost. Everyone from Steve Spurrier to Butch Davis to Mike Sherman have been rumored as possibilities, though none seem all that plausible. A&M has the resources and facilities to rival nearly any school in the country, and its fans are sick of playing second fiddle to Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12 South. (The Aggies' last division and conference title came in 1998.)
Whoever they ultimately pull the trigger on will need to be first and foremost a tremendous recruiter. A&M's biggest luxury is that it's situated in a talent-laden state; its biggest drawback is that rival Mack Brown regularly snaps up the state's most prized prospects.
Prior to Brown's arrival, however, the two schools stood on largely equal footing for the better part of two decades, with the Aggies often the more prominent program under R.C. Slocum. Considering they've now beaten Brown's Longhorns the past two seasons, the next coach will be expected to eliminate the disparity between the two teams over the season's other 11 games.
I am willing to state that we will know about Tuberville based on the result of the Iron Bowl. A win will keep him in Auburn. A loss to a team he has owned, probably indicates he has already made his decision to leave. Here is to hoping he stays in Auburn :)
If they are looking for a good recruiter, they might want to take a look at Ron Zook. But of course, Ron has just signed a contract extension at Illinois, and he isn't really known as a winner, either.
I love hearing about the Big 12 coaching carousel. Their fans are never happy. When do I get to start hearing about Texas fans wanting to replace Brown or Oklahoma fans wanting to replace Stoops. After all, they both may end up with horrible records this year of 9-3 during the regular season. It was enough to get Frank Solich fired and now Franchione is gone after an 8-4 season. Iowa State alumni wanted McCarney's head when he was leading a bad football school to multiple bowls (5 bowl games out of 7 in school history and the only coach to win a bowl game). Will Mangino be on the hot seat next year if Kansas only goes 8-4?
A&M wasn't even happy with it's best coach ever, R.C. Slocum. He was fired after going 6-6 in 2002 despite having 123-47-2 record. How can any coach hope to survive the Big 12 fan base? Are we going to hear a comment from the Texas A&M AD that they will not relinquish the Big 12 to the Missouris and Kansases?
These days good college programs are built by 'up and coming assistants' or successful mid-tier coaches.
I live in Texas (admitting upfront I'm a Sooner alum) and am amazed at the inferiority complex A&M has with UT. They desperately need someone to bring their offense into the new millenium...something TT won't do. They should go after a 'Chris Peterson' type and make sure he's armed with a staff that can recruit Texas. They can expand their base a little bit and move their program forward.
I'm elated that LSU lost so the Mandel's and May's of the world can eat crow for staying so long on their #1 bandwagon. That team has played with fire all year, and they got burnt for the second time. Now, hopefully Mandel and May, along with other media and pollsters, can see through the WVU team that cannot pass (2 yard passes to Slaton/WR's with RAC yards not included) and plays sketchy defense. Go UCONN! Go Mizzou/Kansas! Go Buckeyes!
Let's get the Sauce (some of you know him as Major) in here to run the offense. He is an up and coming offensive coordinator, and he will be a head coach somewhere in the not too distant future. We need a big name coach to recruit and leave the coaching to the guys that know what they are doing. Houston Nutt is being mentioned with SMU and Baylor, I do not want any coach being mentioned with those schools. gig 'em
1. Bill Callahan's lack of success at Nebraska was the result of one grand mistake: trying to shoehorn a pro style offense in a state whose high schools typically don't produce those football skill sets. Ask Barry Alvarez the number one reason Wisconsin was able to turn their program around and he'll tell you it was Bill Callahan's recruiting abilities. It would be interesting to see Callahan in a Texas/Mississippi/Florida/Louisiana school.
2. Al Groh grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia and played football there at UVA. He left his head coaching job with the Jets to return to Charlottesville specifically. He won't leave UVA unless he is fired or asked to resign.
Tuberville said on Wednesday, "he'd like to coach at Auburn for as long as they would let him." He's no Nick Saban. If he made those comments, he has every intention of staying at Auburn--assuming that they rework his contract.
Instead of a splashy name (Fran was purely done as payback for 'Bama snatching Bear Bryant), A&M should find an up-and-comer. Look at what (previously unknown) b-ball coach Billy Gillispie did for them! Since A&M is a football school, they will not let a super-successful football coach ever get away. They'd buy half of College Station and re-name Kyle Field after him to keep him.
From what I've followed, the Tuberville rumor has looked more and more like a Jimmy Sexton ploy. No other single big name has emerged to take the spotlight, but I don't think A&M wants Tuberville. Maybe they're waiting for the season to end to see which coaches will be easiest to pry away.
Why would Spurrier take a headache job like A&M? He showed his real interests in selecting S. Car. I am assuming he could have had the Fla job back. If he moved I think he would prefer a place with tradition, like Nebraska, a situation in which he does not have serious in-state recruitment rivalries, like Nebraska, but one in which the state wide talent is deep (leaves Nebraska out). The only reason Spurrier will move is if he senses that he has done the best he will do for S. Car (he might be there now) and realizes where he is at falls short of what the fans want (already that seems clear). Spurrier is a winner and if he senses it is as good as it gets in S. Car and the talent he really needs is going elsewhere I think he will go elsewhere too, or retire. I honestly think he has shown that at this stage of his life he will not wish to put up with fan demands that he would face at A&M.
Steve Spurrier's name seems to get floated out any time there is an opening at a school which could afford to pay him more than he makes now. But Spurrier would have been a fool to go back to Florida (and Jeremy Foley already had his eye on Urban Meyer). And Spurrier would be a fool to take the A&M job, too.
My theory is that coaching in the NFL is so very different than is coaching at the college level that you just can't go from being a good coach in one to being a good coach in the other. As for Spurrier, I think his awful years at the Redskins permanently warped him away from being the top notch college coach he used to be.
Given the state of the SEC, I think Spurrier is safe at South Carolina, and I do not see it being in his interests to move, as South Carolina gave Spurrier plenty of millions to go there.
As for the A&M job, I think that Houston Nutt would be the best fit. Then we could start speculating on who goes to Arkansas.
I live in Columbia, SC and am a Univ. of S.C., and Steve Spurrier, fan. I'm also a Texas-Ex...HOOK 'EM! I would HATE to see Spurrier go to Aggyland, and don't think he will. I wouldn't blame him if he left South Carolina, though; because the fans here apparently don't understand what they have in him. They have this desire to be a winner, but no patience for what it will take to win here. I hope Spurrier stays, because South Carolina will be mired forever in mediocrity if he does leave. He will be a winner here, if given time.
Texas, on the other hand, needs three things to get back on the national agenda. 1. A new offensive coordinator with imagination and smarts (Major Applewhite); 2. A new defensive coordinator with imagination and smarts; 3. Someone who can create in those kids a desire to win so intense, that losing makes them, literally, nauseated.
Got a call from Kyle Field last night during the game from a friend who's family is a major booster at A&M. He overheard a conversation his father was in and said go to Vegas and put money on Jeff Tedford. Tuberville sounds more likely to me but my buddy said I could take it to the bank.
I can just hear the SEC laughter and insults if Nutt is run out of town and joins A&M. Nutt has had some moments with Ark and could probably improve Baylor, but A&M is likely to want more than moments. They had plenty of moments with Francione.
While tubby, spurrier, and sherman would all be interesting, they don't seem like realistic choices (either unlikely to leave their current jobs or unlikely to leave for aggieland). Houston Nutt is more likely to be available and promotes a hardnosed ground-based style of play that wouldn't require a 2-3 year transition from the current roster. Look at how his team played the last two years, especially last night against LSU. Heck, he wouldn't even have to change his wardrobe colors. Seems like the best fit to me
5 years ago, Texas A&M "stole" a football coach from the University of Alabama. The unprincipled, gutless s.o.b. didn't even have the courage to tell his Bama players he was leaving before he jumped on an A&M jet and flew away to glory land.
So the A&M job is considered desireable b/c they are in Texas and play in the big 12 is that it or b/c bear bryant coached there? B/c besides being around for over a hundred years. I dont see what all the hoopla is about. I mean their 2 best seasons they were on probabtion so they dont even count 93 & 94. They've won their division once and conf once(one less that texas)I dont get them being treated like a powerhouse. when were they a powerhouse?
They have MONEY and lots of it and I do agree that not many people can compete with their facilities. But I dont see that job be ranked as high Michigan and Nebraska.
They will probably lure a big name coach there,b/c when your paying 2 to 3 mill a year, who wouldnt take that job. I mean clearly they arent thinking National Championships down there, are they?
Its an attractive job b/c you will get paid extremely well. Fran did. and your in a recruiting hotbed but to me the real thing it has going for it is that it plays in the big 12. a BCS conf find a way to win 9 games and your inline for a BCS bowl or at the worst a new years day bowl. I mean lets be honest Texas has only been to 2 BCS bowls.
A&M aint nearly as good of a program as they think they are... Why would Spurrier leave South Carolina and all of it's golf courses? A&M needs either Paul Johnson from Navy or Bronko Mendenhaul from BYU, but I don't think either would leave, because once again I don't think A&M's program is as good as their fans and alumni thinks it is... Larry Blakeney, Troy's coach might be a step up.
Mayor A**wipe? - clearly Aggies are not posting here.
News Flash: He's a Longhorn. A recent Longhorn, so was Darnell, but come on. Aggies will embrace him like a redheaded stepchild.
Make no mistake though, we had much more respect for him as a player than Sims. Yes, Sims plays on Sundays (or at least did), but Major is a winner. But he'll never stand on the Aggie sideline.
The name nobody has mentioned is BOB DAVIE.
Think about it for a minute. Aggies think that we're a top tier program and deserve a top tier coach. However, realistically, we're a top 30 team - not a top 10 team. We can't get a retread like Spurier or Tubes (how did it work last time we took a seated coach?).
Bob Davie coached at Notre Dame...doesn't get much bigger than that. Yeah, they suck right now, but it's still a prestigous job.
And I find it hard to believe that Davie hasn't been offered some jobs. Yeah he didn't rock Notre Dames world, but he probably had some recruiting and enrollment restriction that he won't have at A&M.
Plus he's an old Ag.
Plus he'll probably work relatively cheap. We don't need to pay a coach multi millions again until he proves to be a winner.
Can any coach, in the modern era, with the modern player, really hope to recruit top talent to a miserable hole like College Station?
Apart from the son of an alum, or the great-grandson of someone who played there for "The Bear," what kid, offered a choice between UT, OU (or any other school in civilization) and a school where the majority wear jack boots, Sam Browne belts, poofy trousers and State Trooper hats would choose the militaristic hokum of A&M?
Texas A&M needs to wake up and smell the cordite. If you want to be a four-year West Point wannabe, you need to play football in the same league with the other service academy wannabes: The Citadel and VMI.
all of you make good points. with that being said, a&m needs a coach that is not afraid of change the old option run it down their throats style of offense is done. fran wasnt a good fit when he was hired because of all the baggage he brought to the team. texas changed their game and brought in new exciting recruits and oklahoma changed their game and brought in new and exciting recruits as well. lets get out of this mold anbring in a new coach with a new scheme and lets start raising hell. go ags, beat the hell outta texas...again!