Dennis Franchione should be fired -- and fired immediately -- and I don't write that lightly. Google my name and the words "should be fired." That phrase has been written about me, several times. But it has never been written by me. Until today.
Dennis Franchione should be fired.
There it is again. But truth is easy to write, and that's the truth. Franchione should be gone. He should have coached his last game for Texas A&M on Saturday when the Aggies defeated Baylor 34-10.
In a perfect world Franchione actually would have been fired before that game, since his unforgivable transgression had come to light Friday. That's the day the San Antonio Express-News reported Franchione had been selling insider information to an elite group of team boosters.
Texas A&M should let time run out on Dennis Franchione.
At a cost of $1,200 annually, Franchione had been selling those boosters something he called the VIP Connection -- loaded with tidbits on injuries, game plans, staff decisions and recruiting. Somewhere between 12 and 15 boosters had been buying that information for the past three seasons.
How wrong was Franchione to do this? So wrong that even he knew it was wrong. Before being able to subscribe to the VIP Connection, a booster had to sign a legal document vowing to never give out the information or even acknowledge the VIP Connection existed.
Franchione hadn't even told his boss, athletics director Bill Byrne, about the VIP Connection. That's a fireable offense. Byrne put a stop to it after learning of it through the Express-News. Did Franchione tell the IRS about his secret venture? I don't know, but if that answer is no, that would be a criminal offense.
For this discussion, whether Franchione told the IRS is irrelevant. He should be fired on so many other grounds, I'm not sure why he was allowed to coach against Baylor in the first place.
First of all, the injury information. On a clinical level, that information was technically not his to distribute to boosters. To protect the privacy of the injured player in question, federal law makes that information confidential. Every time Franchione included in his newsletter details on a player's injury, he was tiptoeing around a federal law -- and, more egregiously, betraying the trust of that player.
On a more basic level, Franchione was arming an elite class of boosters with gambling information. Did any of his selected boosters use their insider information to make better-informed bets than the rest of the gambling public? We don't know. But as far as Franchione is concerned, there are only two possibilities here: (A) He knew his boosters would use the info to make bets; or (B) it never occurred to him they might use the information for betting. Either option is bad. Either (A) Franchione was aiding and abetting gambling on his program, or (B) he was irresponsible and ignorant in a way that a $2 million-a-year leader cannot afford to be.
Either way, he should be fired.
Then there's the betrayal of his school, his team, his players: Franchione was selling information on game plans. The information never rose to the level of what play would be called in specific situations, but there were enough hints in his newsletters to give the opposing team an advantage, if an opposing team ever got its hands on the information.