After the firing of legendary headman RC Slocum, new A&M athletic director Bill Byrne and President/Former CIA director Robert Gates pulled off a coaching coup, luring Alabama head coach Dennis Franchione to College Station and making him Texas A&M's 26th head coach. This development "returns the favor" of sorts, as those of you familiar with the college game remember Bear Bryant leaving College Station for Tuscaloosa four decades ago.
Still, there are some cautionary signs for both Aggie fans and college fans in general to note. Franchione is now averaging about two seasons per university he coaches. Franchione moved from SW Texas State to New Mexico to TCU to Alabama and now to Texas A&M, all in a relatively short 12-year period. There is no guarantee that Franchione will stay beyond his second season at A&M. Now, if that bears the fruit of BCS bowl apperances and wins over Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma, then many Aggie fans will be happy. I do hope that Gates made the right choice here, as A&M football was at a crossroads between revival and descending mediocrity. Perhaps Franchione will reverse that trend.The Big XII is the best football conference in college sports -- and its South Division the single toughest in the country.
Still, I worry about bad karma. Franchione may have left Alabama in part because of Alabama's strenuous 2-year bowl ban and scholarship reductions. However, he convinced his Crimson Tide players to stay onboard the program. The next year will be very hard on Alabama, as the effects of probation and the scholarship chop become more clear.
This hiring also continues the odd axis of football between Bama and A&M. Not only do we have the Bryant example, we also have the case of Bryant's pupil Gene Stallings, who played and coached at Aggieland, then later in life took the mantle at Tuscaloosa, where he led the Crimson Tide to the 1992 national championship with a victory over Miami in the Sugar Bowl.
"Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery." -- Jack Paar