Friday, November 23, 2007

The End of an Error

In the days floowing yet another loss to Texas under Coach R.C. Slocum, I couldn't bear to think of another Aggie football season with him at the helm. The numbers didn't lie; A&M had been on a downward slide since 1995 with an outlier of a conference championship in 1998 that in hind site seemed more to be a result of the chemistry of the players that year than coaching. A few days later, R.C. Slocum was reassigned and the search was on for a new head coach and a new era in Aggie football. Shortly thereafter, Dennis Francione left a seemingly renewed Alabama program to turnaround the floundering A&M program. Hindsight is 20/20 and after five years in Aggieland, it appears that Fran's last season at Alabama and his previous seasons at TCU were more about the players drive and determination than anything he did as a coach or motivator.

Today, A&M is no better off than the day that Coach Fran arrived. Our record went down dramatically during his first year and then proceeded to yo-yo up and down over the next four seasons. Yes, he did helm teams that defeated Texas in consecutive years for the first time since the early '90's, but beating our rival is not the be-all end-all of Aggie football. Most fans want a team that is competitive in the Big 12 and puts themselves in a position to at least play for the Big 12 championship every year. Texas and Oklahoma have done it and, like it or not, they have raised the bar over the past decade in the Big 12 South.

Following tonight's win over Texas, Coach Dennis Franchione announced that he would be stepping down as head coach of Texas A&M. I don't think that anyone is gullible enough to believe that Fran wants to leave A&M, but the powers that be have realized that his continued tenure at A&M would only hurt the football program, and by extension the entire athletic department, more than simply starting over. I do think that it might have been better to wait a day, but on the other hand, we might as well strike while the iron is hot. This decision has been a long time coming and I know that quiet arrangements have been going on behind closed doors for a while.

There has been much talk and rumors lately about who will be the next A&M head coach and I have a few criteria that I only hope are used to winnow the field:

1. Not Tommy Tuberville
2. Not Steve Spurrier
3. Not Jimmy Johnson
4. Not an Aggie
5. Not a "CEO"
6. Someone who can win a bowl game.
7. Someone who makes his players believe that they can beat any team on any day.
8. Someone who shows genuine emotion on the sidelines.
9. Someone who isn't already a head coach at a major program.
10. Someone who has new ideas.
11. Someone who is under forty year old.
12. Someone who is flexible enough to make course corrections when necessary.

I don't want to replace one hiring mistake with another. I don't want to go for the big name. I want someone who has new ideas about the game and not someone who is so intractable in their game plans they refuse to admit their mistakes. I want someone who is inspiring and energetic. I want someone who is honest and forthcoming with their poor decisions. I want someone who really wants to make A&M a competitive program again and not just a spoiler.

Thanks for giving a go at it Coach Fran. I know that you had higher hopes when you started, but I think that your approach was a little misguided. It just didn't mesh with the established program. We gave you a good chance, but the Big 12 is a difficult conference and I think that you underestimated it a bit when you started. Thanks for playing a part in beating Texas twice but I just wanted a little more than a post-Thanksgiving win. Good luck and Gig 'Em.


Timmie Smith said...

Reading your list of criteria the only one that comes to mind is the Pirate of the South Plains, Mike Leach. I think he's a bit too off the wall for College Station though, and he is over 40 so he doesn't completely fit your bill.

Bubba said...

I'm all for the "old ball coach." It would be very entertaining.

Wes Raine said...

The thing that worries me about Steve Spurrier is that he might be past his prime. I would have loved the excitement he had on the sidelines in his Florida days, but he hasn't seem to be able to do much at South Carolina not to mention his non-career in the NFL. I know that A&M and SC are different, but I am just really leary of hiring a "big name" coach. But I'm sure that's the way that Dollar Bill will go.