Monday, November 20, 2006

Fran, Aggies need to stop teasing and start pleasing

From the article by Richard Oliver at the San Antonio Express

It's time for Dennis Franchione to fulfill his advertised promise.
After nearly four years of laying a foundation now sprawling enough to accommodate four Kyle Fields, it's time for the Texas A&M football coach to build something special on more than paper.

Like on the scoreboard, for instance.

Franchione needs to produce a cornerstone victory.


If he can't win this week in Austin, falling to 2-11 in November, 4-17 against Top 25 teams, 1-14 against Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas Tech and archrival Texas, it will be time to work up another blueprint for the future.

Simply, because this high-priced architect is running out of time.

Franchione, hired at great cost to rebuild respect, comes into this week's annual showdown spearheading an Aggies program that under his watch is no longer viewed as a Thanksgiving main course for the ascendant Longhorns.

Instead, A&M has become dessert.

It's a bitter development for a fan base feeling whipped around these days like debris on Highway 6. The football operation has become more teasing than pleasing, sending hopes rising and falling in maddening arcs.

Franchione felt the impact of it over the past two weeks as the Aggies suffered excruciating one-point losses to Oklahoma and Nebraska, leaving question marks planted in the aftermath like cleat marks all over the turf. Then, the harsh reviews of his sideline management hit harder and faster than any day-after headline.

The partisan crowds of 80,000 plus, an ocean of maroon surrounding him, poured down waves of boos.

The significance of that? Aggies don't boo Aggies, a tradition almost as dear as Reveille and The Dixie Chicken.

Even in the worst days of Gene Stallings, Tom Wilson and even Hank Foldberg, any jeer that tumbled from the stands was usually shushed by an A&M populace that embraced a belief of loyalty to the school above all else.

Today, however, the 12th Man, whether on site at Kyle or on edge from afar, is demanding more, and with good reason.

This month has offered more painful doses of close but no cigar, and doubtless even the big cigars in the school's sparkling suites felt the discontent rattling the panes, if not their guts.

The most recent setback, a wrenching 28-27 loss to the Cornhuskers, closed with an infuriating five-minute span that included a blocked field goal, an inability to run out the final 2:30 on the clock and the surrender of a decisive 11-play, 75-yard drive helped along by a brainless penalty.

A week after Franchione's spiritless play-calling in the clutch against Oklahoma, Aggieland endured a game plan that had the offense, with time bleeding away, send freshman Michael Goodson on a sweep that sent him out of bounds, stopping the clock.

Looking on was the Aggies' bull of a running back, Jorvorskie Lane, a proven playmaker relegated to only six carries for 13 yards. A wide-body force not so long ago, he's been mysteriously downsized so quickly these days that it's fair to wonder who will next call his number, Les Koenning or Jenny Craig.

Whatever the reason, the last time Nebraska coach Bill Callahan received a gift like that, Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis was handing him a handsome check to leave the West Coast.

Moments later, Callahan and Co. left Kyle Field with an unlikely Big 12 North championship.

Franchione, in what had been projected as a defining season, was left with a defining message ringing in his ears.

If A&M wanted to invest more than $2 million a year for moral victories, it might do better to expand the campus' All-Faith Chapel.

That, unless something unexpected happens this week in Austin, would at least be something to build on.
Sums it up perfectly. I know Byrne is on a 6 year plan, but this is getting rediculous, especially with the outrageous ticket prices.

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