Franchione going to Texas A&M: Stunned Players Left Behind

Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore
Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore
Dennis Franchione Arrives in Texas
Dennis Franchione Arrives in Texas
A&M Rolls Out the Red Carpet
A&M Rolls Out the Red Carpet

Dennis Franchione, who's popularity as an Alabama coach probably equaled that of Gene Stallings and even approached the legendary Bear Bryant, has chucked it all to become the new head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies.  Franchione will be introduced to the Aggie faithful Friday morning on the Texas A&M campus.

 Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore confirmed in a Thursday afternoon press conference that Franchione told him  around 3:20 p.m. that he would be going to A&M.

Moore went on to say, "I have formulated a short list of potential candidates. This hire needs to be an experienced head coach at the college level and a person who will have a long-term commitment to the university, and one who recognizes our potential to compete for championships and honors the tradition of the Crimson Tide."

The two-year Alabama coach left some stunned players behind.  Offensive lineman Marico Portis says Franchione encouraged players to stay with the program and Portis says some players may feel betrayed by Franchione's departure, "He wanted us to stay with that commitment with him, holding the road, just staying for the long run.  But, yes I think some of the guys will feel betrayed if he was to take the job."

Some Alabama fans are feeling the same way.  Alabama fans have endured a lot over the last three years.  They thought Dennis Franchione was the man who would give the program some stability.  They were even willing to overlook a 17-7 loss to arch-rival Auburn.

But, they began to feel betrayed when word came that Franchione and his wife boarded a private jet for Texas at mid-morning. The couple flew, not to College Station, but, to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, where the 5-year contract worth a reported $10-million was finalized.   From there it was on to College Station where the red-carpet was rolled out.

According to reports from the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram , Texas A&M received permission Wednesday from Alabama Athletic Director Mal Moore to talk to Franchione.  Wednesday afternoon Franchione met with Alabama Mal Moore and members of the Alabama board of trustees, then left without commenting. He canceled speaking engagements Wednesday night in Columbus, Ga., and Thursday in Montgomery.

 Back home in Alabama Thursday, players continued to comment on Franchione's departure. 

Alabama lineman, Alonzo Ephraim, says each person has to choose his own path and he understands Franchione's actions, "He has his own goals.  Everybody has their own individual goals.  Maybe that's one of his goals...Maybe he's been put in a position to accomplish that."

Alabama quarterback Tyler Watts has had his own struggles while at Alabama and says this just adds to the list of problems the team has been through.  "Right now for something like this to be happening, it is very tough on a football player, especially as much as we've been through."

Cornerback Roberto McBride says he was shocked at the decision, but still has a warm spot in his heart for Coach Franchione, no matter where Franchione coaches.  "It kind of shocked me because I just have one year left and I was so close to Coach Fran.  I wish he could have stayed one more year.  I trust Coach Fran and I know he's making the right decision going to Texas A&M.  We're still going to love him, even though he's going to leave us.  I just wish him the best of luck and I'm just going to keep playing."

Questions are beginning to arise about high school recruits and whether or not they will keep their commitment to Alabama.  In Alabama, 12 high school seniors have verbally committed to play for the Tide next year.  Carver's  Mario Lane says, "It's a total shock to me.  The only thing I know, he got a better offer.  He did what he had to do at Alabama.  Now he's gone." read more

Franchione completed just two years of a 5-year contract and left a 10-year deal on the table to return to Texas. Franchione came from Texas Christian University to Alabama.

Texas A&M fired coach R.C. Slocum on Monday with three years remaining on a seven-year contract.  While Alabama fans may be disappointed, it's a totally different reaction at Texas A&M.  Fan's there say they're optimistic about their football team's future.  "Hopefully, he'll bring us the second-coming of Ladanian Tomlinson like he did at TCU," said one of the faithful.  Another stated, "TCU wasn't that good before he got there.  He took them on a ride.  Alabama had a really good season and it seems it had a lot to do with him.  We do have a ton of talent and we do need someone to bring it together."

Franchione's career record is 155-73-2. Over the past two season's Franchione's record at Alabama is 17-8. read more

The Tide under his leadership was 10-3 this year. Alabama is prohibited from playing in a bowl game this year or next due to NCAA recruiting violations that occurred before Franchione began coaching at Alabama.