Sports Outside the Beltway

Franchione Out at Texas A&M

Dennis Franchione‘s days as head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies appear to be numbered, ESPN reports.

Texas A&M is talking about buying out Franchione’s contract, sources have told ESPN college football analyst Andre Ware. Texas A&M said Monday it would wait until the end of the football season before deciding Franchione’s fate. At least one national Web site reported that Franchione had already accepted a buyout before backing off the story.

“There are several false rumors circulating regarding the Texas A&M football program,” the school said in an e-mailed statement. Athletics department spokesman Alan Cannon said athletics director Bill Byrne would wait until the end of the season to evaluate Franchione, as he does with all coaches. Cannon added, “I have received no indication that he has changed his stance.” Cannon said Franchione is still A&M’s coach and is preparing the team to play Missouri on Saturday.

Franchione has been in hot water with the university for a newsletter he was sending out to donors willing to pay $1,200 for inside information. In mid-October, Texas A&M officials admonished Franchione for his secretive, for-pay newsletter and said the embarrassing episode would be a factor in deciding whether he returns next season.

The school said it would report the results of an internal investigation to the NCAA because of possible rules violations, and Franchione was ordered to shut down his Web site, He also will receive a “letter of admonishment.”

“The Aggies are embarrassed right now,” athletic director Bob Byrne said in October. “This has been a very unfortunate incident we do not want to experience again.”

Texas A&M is reportedly researching whether Franchione violated his contract with the income he received from the newsletter. If he is found in violation of the contract, the Aggies may not have to pay the coach anything upon firing him.

Franchione’s contract pays him $2 million per season and runs through 2012. A buyout will be $141,667 per month for the remainder of the contract, or about $8 million. Ware reported Monday that Texas A&M is looking for a buyout in the $2 million range.

Ware reported that Texas A&M wants to talk to Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville for a potential vacancy. He reported that the school is working with Chuck Neinas, who runs a consulting firm specializing in hiring coaches.

Franchione’s case isn’t helped by the fact that he’s underperformed since taking the gig.

Franchione came to A&M from Alabama, where he went 10-3 in 2002. He was never a perfect fit at A&M, where he replaced the popular R.C. Slocum.

Oklahoma humiliated the Aggies 77-0 in 2003, the first of three consecutive losses to end the season. The Aggies went 7-4 in 2004, but lost again to Texas before Tennessee’s 38-7 win in the Cotton Bowl. A&M lost its final four games in 2005 and finished 5-6, its second losing record in Franchione’s first three seasons.

The Aggies won nine games last season, but narrowly beat Army in San Antonio. They beat Texas 12-7, snapping a six-game losing streak in the series and getting their first win in Austin since 1994. But California ripped A&M 45-10 in the Holiday Bowl last December, rekindling A&M fans’ discontent.

Texas A&M is 6-4 this season, and Franchione is 31-28 overall with the Aggies. He is 2-12 against main rivals Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.

As an Alabama fan left in the lurch by Coach Fran when he bailed on his team in order to pursue his dream, all I can say is Bwaaaaa ha ha ha.

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