Embattled A&M Coach Resigns After Five Rocky Seasons

Dennis Franchione resigned as Texas A&M's coach on Friday

Nov. 23, 2007

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -Dennis Franchione resigned as Texas A&M's coach on Friday, ending a rocky five-year tenure less than an hour after the Aggies beat archrival Texas 38-30 at Kyle Field.

The school announced Franchione had accepted a buyout, but refused to give details.

Franchione finished 32-28 at A&M, far short of the expectations when he replaced R.C. Slocum in December 2002. Off the field, he embarrassed the university this season when it was revealed he was selling inside information about the program to big-money boosters in a secret newsletter.

Dressed in a gray suit, Franchione stepped to the podium after beating Texas for a second straight season and ended all the speculation about his future.

"We appreciate the opportunity we have had at this great institution, to work with this administration," he read from a prepared statement. "We have made many lasting friendships."

Franchione, who will not coach the Aggies in their bowl game, did not take questions from reporters.

Last year, Franchione likely earned himself one more season by beating Texas 12-7 in Austin. As sweet as it is to beat the hated 'Horns again, it didn't earn him another season in College Station this time.

Swarmed by cameras after it was over, Franchione pushed through the throng to embrace junior quarterback Stephen McGee, his staunchest supporter during this tumultuous season.

He hooked arms with McGee on the field to line up for one more post-game "yell," a time-worn A&M tradition. He found his wife, Kim, and tightly clenched her hand as he walked slowly off the field, embracing more than a dozen players and friends along the way.

"We have an outstanding group of young men on this team and especially great people," Franchione said. "We want them to know that we love them, feel blessed for our time together, and will miss them."

 

 

Athletic department spokesman Alan Cannon said the players did not know about Franchione's intentions until after the game.

The Aggies were 19-21 in Big 12 games under Franchione and lost 12 of 15 games against rivals Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Texas.

The Aggies (7-5, 4-4 Big 12) finished the regular season with four losses in six games. They haven't won the Big 12 since 1998.

Franchione's contract ran through 2012 and paid him a base salary of $2 million per year, another sore spot with the Aggies faithful.

Franchione talked boldly about this season before it began, but it started to unravel when the Aggies lost to Miami 34-17 on national television.

A week later, a newspaper reported that Franchione's personal assistant had been sending out e-mails with inside information about the program to boosters who paid $1,200 a year to get it. Embarrassed athletic director Bill Byrne suggested Franchione breached his contract, admitted NCAA rules were broken and vowed the messy scandal would be part of Franchione's year-end evaluation.

Byrne read a statement after Franchione and took no questions before following Franchione out the door.

Byrne said the school had completed its investigation into the e-mail scandal. He said the school was convinced that Franchione "did not intentionally, knowingly, or directly participate in actions that were inappropriate or in violation of rules or policies."

Byrne added that he thought Franchione was guilty of "inadequate supervision and oversight."

Franchione's failure at A&M was puzzling, given his strong record of turning around programs.

New Mexico was 9-50 in the five seasons before Franchione arrived in 1992. The Lobos had three winning records in six seasons under Franchione and went 9-4 in 1997.

In 1998, Franchione moved to TCU, which finished 1-10 the previous season. The Horned Frogs - with LaDainian Tomlinson in the backfield - never had a losing record in Franchione's three seasons and went 10-1 in 2000.

Franchione spent the next two seasons at Alabama and the Tide went 10-3 in 2002 before he bolted for A&M.

The Aggies went 4-8 in Franchione's first season, including a 77-0 blowout loss to Oklahoma. It was A&M's first losing record since 1982 and the grumblings from the fans were already starting.

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