Franchione Unveils Book in T-Town
By Paul Myerberg // Oct 1, 2010
It’s been a long time since Dennis Franchione graced this site’s presence — too long, in my opinion. Let’s take a trip down memory lane, way back to 2001, when Franchione was first hired at Alabama. Those were happy days, days filled with smiles, promise and potential, with both parties sure success lay just around the corner. The occasion: a book party for Franchione’s soon-to-be-released opus, titled — and I kid you not — “Coach Fran: The Mission… The Method… The Man.” Franchione took the scene with the book’s co-author, Mike McKenzie — more on him in a moment.
What of this book, with its unbelievable title and trio of ellipses? Could this book have been anything but the decade’s finest piece of American non-fiction? Alas, it wasn’t meant to be: I can’t locate the book anywhere on the Internet, which is unfortunate — I would have bought one.
As the above link describes, the book was first imagined as a detailed look at Franchione’s rebuilding job at T.C.U., where he brought a 1-10 team to bowl play in his second season:
After taking over a team that was 1-10 the previous year, Franchione once again performed his turnaround magic in leading the Horned Frogs to a 7-5 mark, including a Sun Bowl victory over nationally recognized Southern Cal–the biggest turnaround in Division 1A football that season.
But that’s not what makes this story interesting, even if it’s telling to recall that Alabama, like Texas A&M, was hoodwinked by Franchione: early promise beget eventual despair. What makes this book important is the relationship it fostered between McKenzie — a very well-regarded journalist, a Pulitzer Prize winner — and Franchione.
Developed when both were in Texas, the relationship continued in Tuscaloosa; Franchione coached the Crimson Tide for two years, compiling a 17-8 mark. When Franchione headed to A&M, he took McKenzie with him — as his personal assistant.
As Franchione’s assistant, McKenzie was responsible for penning the famous “V.I.P. Connection,” the emails sent to those A&M fans willing to pony up and pay for the insider’s information.
And what sort of juicy information did the lucky boosters get? In one newsletter, McKenxie wrote that six players would be unavailable to play against Montana State and listed their specific injuries. In another, he said that Franchione had “privately” told him that two players were “very steady but with average speed.”
In his response to the emails becoming public, A&M athletic director Bill Byrne wrote:
“Payments for the services of Mike McKenzie were paid directly from Dennis Franchione and not through the CoachFran.com account with Seriously Clued Consulting. Mr. McKenzie has annually reported this income to the institution.” The report stated that, “Dennis Franchione did not directly receive any of the proceeds until June 26, 2007, and he would have reported the income as part of the institution’s upcoming 2006-07 outside income report.”
McKenzie was fired, of course, and rightfully so. What of Franchione: were these emails the deciding factor behind his dismissal? No — blame the 32-28 record. They didn’t help, obviously.
Tags: Alabama, Dennis Franchione, Mike McKenzie, Texas A&M
Leave a Comment