SAN MARCOS, TEXAS (AP) - Dennis Franchione was hired at Texas State on Friday, returning to college football a long way from the bright lights and big money of Alabama and Texas A&M, where his reputation was battered by unmet expectations and embarrassing scandal.
Franchione signed a five-year deal with the Bobcats, who will join the WAC in 2012 and is making the jump to the Football Bowl Subdivision after having long played in college football’s second tier.
Franchione’s base pay will be $350,000 annually, plus incentives.
He had made $2 million a year at Texas A&M, which he called his “dream job” after leaving Alabama following the 2002 season. But he resigned five years later with a 32-28 record, the disdain of frustrated Texas A&M fans and the embarrassment of being caught selling inside information about the program to big-money boosters in a secret newsletter.
The 59-year-old Franchione said at his introduction that it was time to move on.
“I don’t really want to talk about that because this is Texas State’s day. That was just a bonehead mistake on my part,” Franchione said. “That was certainly not representative of me. I made my mistakes during my career obviously, but I enjoyed my five years at Texas A&M, today is about Texas State University.”
It is a homecoming of sorts of Franchione, who coached the Bobcats from 1990-91 when the school was called Southwest Texas State and played in Division II. From there, Franchione left to take his first Division I head coaching job at New Mexico, where he began to cultivate a reputation as a rebuilder.
He took over TCU a year after the Horned Frogs went 1-10 and laid a winning foundation for Gary Patterson, his eventual successor. That got him a job at Alabama, where he stayed two years and led the Crimson Tide to a 10-3 record in his final season.
But Franchione never could turn around the Aggies. By 2007, his final season, the program’s fervent fans had turned on him and the newsletter scandal came to light.
Texas State athletic director Larry Teis said Franchione’s rocky end at Texas A&M didn’t factor into his decision.
“We looked into that situation,” Teis said. “Texas A&M was satisfied with the results. The NCAA was satisfied. If it would have been a major violation, we wouldn’t have hired him. In this business, just like in life, people make mistakes. The only difference is that our mistakes are publicized. We were satisfied by what we found in our own investigation.”
Franchione, who had also recently been a candidate for the North Texas job, said he was happy to return to San Marcos with his wife.
“Kim and I loved our time at Texas State, but we have often said that it was too short,” Franchione said. “This is going to be a huge transition for the Texas State football program, and I’m excited to be a part of this challenge of leading the Bobcats into the FBS.”
Franchione is making a new start just up the road from where Larry Coker, the former Miami coach who led the Hurricanes to a national title, is doing the same thing. Coker is the head coach at Texas-San Antonio, which will debut its football program this fall and join the Bobcats in the WAC in 2012.
Franchione replaces Brad Wright, who was fired after the Bobcats went 4-7 this season.
“This is a similar situation that I was in coming into TCU,” Franchione said. “But TCU was 1-10 the previous season. Texas State has been successful over the last few years and I’m ready to get to work to get them ready to be successful at the next level.”
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