|Wednesday, December 4
Updated: December 5, 8:26 AM ET
Report: Five-year deal in works for Franchione
ESPN.com news services
Alabama football coach Dennis Franchione has held serious discussions with Texas A&M relating to the Aggies' vacant head coaching position, an A&M source close to the situation told the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday.
Also, according to a report from Thursdays Houston Chronicle, the A&M board of regents have proposed a five-year contract for Franchione to take over the Aggies football program. Terms of an offer to Franchione were believed to be about $10 million to $11 million.
Athletic director Bill Byrne, hired by A&M on Tuesday, was believed to have met Wednesday with Craig Kelly, Franchione's legal representative, to talk about a proposed deal.
Both newspaper reports indicated that an announcement on Franchione's intentions could be made before the weekend.
Texas A&M had previously asked for permission to talk to Franchione.
"I will not impede coach Franchione in any manner if he wishes to talk to A&M,'' athletic director Mal Moore told The Associated Press on Wednesday in a statement. "However, I want to stress that we want coach Franchione to finish his coaching career at the University of Alabama.
"We have made what we feel is a strong and fair contractual offer for him to stay.''
Meanwhile, Texas A&M president Robert Gates declined to confirm reports that school officials had received permission to speak with Franchione about becoming the Aggies coach.
Told that Alabama athletic director Mal Moore confirmed Wednesday that A&M officials had asked for and received permission to talk with Franchione, Gates only replied, "That sounds reliable.''
Gates, speaking face-to-face to reporters for the first time since firing coach R.C. Slocum on Monday, wouldn't go into detail about the plans for replacing the 14-year head coach.
"We have a process under way in looking for a new coach,'' Gates said. "I hope we'll have some results soon. That's all I'll say about the future.''
Gates also wasn't specific about a timetable for finding Slocum's replacement.
"I hope soon,'' he said.
Franchione coached at TCU before taking the Alabama job three years ago and remains under contract at Alabama through 2007 at $1.1 million per season plus incentives. He led Alabama to a 17-8 record the past two seasons, finishing 10-3 this season.
But Alabama, on NCAA probation for recruiting violations that occurred before Franchione took the job, isn't eligible for a bowl game this year or next. Franchione hasn't signed a contract extension with Alabama reportedly worth $15 million over 10 years.
Franchione met for about three hours Wednesday afternoon with Moore and members of the Alabama board of trustees, then left without commenting.
Several Texas newspapers have reported that Franchione is the Aggies' top choice.
"There's been no change in what I plan to do at this point in time,'' Franchione said Tuesday night when asked if he intended to leave Alabama. "I've got coaches out recruiting, and they're working hard.''
The subject didn't come up during Franchione's luncheon speech Wednesday to the Atlanta Touchdown Club -- for good reason.
"His secretary told me three times not to bring that up,'' said D.L. Claborn, the group's executive director. "He doesn't want to talk about it and he doesn't want to answer it.''
Claborn said the turnout of 273 was about 50 more than normal. Franchione's topics were the Hawaii trip and the Crimson Tide's 10-3 season and top finish in the SEC West under NCAA sanctions.
"He made an excellent talk and we gave him two or three standing ovations,'' Claborn said.
Franchione canceled a trip to the Columbus Quarterback Club scheduled for Wednesday night, sending assistant coach Jim Bob Helduser in his place.
Slocum, who has spent all but one season since 1972 on the A&M coaching staff, has three years remaining on a seven-year contract worth $1 million annually. A&M president Robert Gates said Slocum accepted an offer to remain at the university as his special adviser.
"I talked with R.C. this morning, we still have to work out the details to nail down,'' Gates said. "I've already arranged an office for him. We're in the process of talking about the content of the position.
"I expressed to him my enthusiasm in staying on and being an adviser and helping me. We talked about a lot of things that he could do,'' he said. "He is without question at this point the most recognized, and I think it's fair to say the most beloved Aggie there is alive right now with a devotion to the school.''
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.