As Dennis Franchione enters his 35th year of coaching football and his 25th as a collegiate head coach, it's easy to see why he is such a good fit at Texas A&M.
Texas A&M traditions are so important to Coach Fran and the Aggie staff and players that a different tradition is presented and discussed each night during fall camp. At the close of the last meeting of the day, the entire Aggie squad sings the Spirit of Aggieland and the Aggie War Hymn.
Coach Fran takes time to visit with the current students by making visits to various dining halls on campus to interact with the students who compose the 12th Man. Coach Fran and his wife Kim have helped hand out Aggie rings at the Association of Former Students.
“I have been very impressed by the young people who attend Texas A&M,” Coach Fran said. “They are a committed group who value character, hard work and are very loyal. The saying, ‘Once an Aggie, Always an Aggie’ is very evident. Kim and I have heard wonderful stories when we’ve handed out Aggie Rings at the Association of Former Students. It is hard to explain the feelings I had when I attended my first Silver Taps on campus, or attended my first Muster. I am honored to be the head coach at an outstanding school such as Texas A&M.”
Coach Fran's 2006 Aggie squad posted a 9-4 record and earned a trip to the Holiday Bowl.
# The Fran File
# Franchione's Year-by-Year Results
# Fran Facts
“When talking to members of the national media making their first visit to Kyle Field, they are impressed by the Corps march in prior to the games,” Coach Fran explained. “It is quite an honor to have President Bush and his wife Barbara, review the Corps and attend our games.”
“One of the reasons why I like to have our home football games kick in the afternoon or evening is I get to attend Midnight Yell,” Coach Fran explained. “There is not another place in the country that gets 30-to-40,000 fans coming out at midnight before a game like we get here for Midnight Yell.”
Coach Fran admitted he was a little partial to the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, even before he came to Aggieland.
“Growing up as a youngster and watching games on television and then coaching in this state, I always loved watching and hearing the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band,” Coach Fran stated. “When the band came over and played in the street in front of our house our first year here in Aggieland, I was truly moved by the gesture. I only get to see them perform at Kyle Field during the spring game, but I like to listen and watch video of their performances after our games. They are powerful and work together as a unit, much like a good football team.”
That team building is something Coach Fran is noted for and he is focused and determined to continue the job of rebuilding the Texas A&M football program.
“The best thing that Dennis Franchione does is he gets a team to play unselfishly,” said ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. “He gets them to understand the team concept. He’s done that everywhere.”
Herbstreit’s colleague on College GameDay Lee Corso noted Franchione’s patience and experience in giving programs an about-face.
“It’s amazing,” Corso said. “He does it with two things: patience and he doesn’t let outside influences get involved in his football program. He knows what works and he’s doing it.”
Coach Fran has guided his teams to more championships than many of his peers and to more titles than any other current Big 12 Conference coach.
“I enjoy building a team, getting everyone to pull together in one direction for the benefit of the group,” Coach Fran said. “Putting team goals ahead of personal agendas and seeing the success of the team is very rewarding.”
Prior to landing on the scene in Aggieland on Dec. 6, 2002, Franchione masterfully transformed seven teams seeking success into seven teams ready for postseason play.
Coach Fran and the Aggies got off to a 4-8 record in the 2003 season, but bounced back with the nation’s fifth-best regular season turnaround at 7-4. The Aggies faced three Bowl Championship Series teams and played the nation’s toughest schedule and still advanced to the Cotton Bowl, the first Jan. 1st bowl game for Texas A&M since the 1998 season.
In 2004, Franchione focused the team’s attention toward the Texas A&M name on the front of the jersey when he eliminated the player’s names from the back of the jerseys.
“I told them that no name would go on the back of the jersey until we demonstrated that we played together as a team for the name on the front,” Franchione said. “It was absolutely necessary for us to have a chance to be successful.”
Part of that plan found Franchione uniting the team through a simple, rubber maroon wrist band inscribed “Texas A&M” which was distributed prior to the season opener at Utah.
“I told the team that nobody should accept one unless they operate as one heartbeat and play only for the name on the front of our jersey, Texas A&M,” Franchione said.
On the field, Franchione and the Aggies not only improved on the scoreboard, they made a remarkable improvement in the turnover-takeaway department.
“From the first day of spring practice and every day at practice, we finished with a turnover/takeaway segment,” Franchione said. “We put a tremendous emphasis on that. We had to do that if we were going to turn our record around.”
The team unity formula coupled with a daily focus on turnovers helped Franchione re-establish A&M football on the national scene.
When Franchione is not giving credit to his players he quickly directs attention to his experienced coaching staff whose continuity has been a key element of the Fran Plan with a combined 51 years with Franchione.
The five recruiting classes that Franchione and his staff have put together have turned heads nationally.
Each of the five classes has been ranked in the top 20 in the country with three of those cracking the top 10.
“I believe that Dennis Franchione is doing great recruiting and getting the star players in there,” football analyst Craig James said. “The system is coming together.”
The Franchione system stems from years of ex-perience and focuses on a myriad of elements to help his team reach the ultimate goal of a national championship.
“He has rebuilt programs at warp speed at every previous stop,” said Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle. “He’s smart, tough, and innovative. He gets as much from his talent as any coach in America. At Texas A&M, he’ll get enough talent to win a national championship.”
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