Many people feel that no Alabama coach, since Bear Bryant was received as warmly as was Dennis Franchione when he accepted the head coaching job at Alabama on December 4, 2000.
Bama fans were convinced he was the man to lead them through the wilderness of NCAA probation and Tide fans were looking forward to continuing the winning ways Franchione brought with him as he took over a team that had been 3-8 the year before his arrival.
On the announcement that Franchione would be the next head coach a sense of excitement was instilled back into the Crimson Tide football program. Known for his loyalty, accountability and organization, Franchione fit the pieces back into the puzzle, that had been taken apart by Mike Dubose.
His first year, Coach Fran beat the Tide's biggest rival, 31 to 7 and took the tide to their 51st bowl game, beating Iowa State in the Independence Bowl.
Then came NCAA sanctions. Despite the fact Alabama lost over 20 scholarships, and couldn't play in a bowl game for two years, Franchione kept the team intact - no one left. And the Tide had a ten win season finishing with a 21-16 victory over Hawaii.
Franchione leaves Alabama after two seasons with a 17 and 8 record. He moved the team forward, but his sudden departure now leaves the puzzle that is Alabama football, scrambled on the table for another coach to put back together again.
Tide Athletic Director Mal Moore says the search for a new coach begins immediately. He'd like to have a new man in place as quickly as possible to shore up recruiting and protect their commitments. It's very early to speculate but, one would think that Carl Torbush, the defensive coordinator, and a former head coach will get consideration. And Mike Riley, now with the New Orleans saints, may be the an early candidate. Riley graduated from Alabama in 1975. While playing secondary at Alabama, Riley played on a national championship team and a team that earned four SEC Conference titles.
FRANCHIONE AS A HEAD COACH
(153-72-2 - 20 seasons)