OK, after Dennis Dodd broke his story yesterday that it was all over in College Station, numerous reports are offering a slightly less conclusive story about the life and time of the Fran-tastic era…
The DMN says it is done…just not done …
Multiple sources close to the Texas A&M athletic department said that Dennis Franchione likely will be removed as head football coach after this season.
A&M athletic director Bill Byrne has stated numerous times he will not evaluate Franchione's job status until after the season. Sources said it's unclear if Franchione would announce his resignation before the regular-season finale against Texas on Nov. 23.
But Franchione's 31-27 record in five seasons and the embarrassment his secret e-mail newsletter brought the university are enough to warrant a change, sources said.
Byrne and Franchione probably will negotiate a settlement, sources said. According to Franchione's contract, he would be owed $8.5 million for the remaining five years of his deal. However, A&M said the secret newsletter violated NCAA rules, and that could be used to negotiate a lower amount.
Bill Jones, chairman of the A&M board of regents, said nothing official has happened. He adamantly rebutted several Internet stories that stated Byrne already had reached a financial settlement with Franchione.
"Well, all of that is untrue. It is untrue," Jones said. "Bill Byrne does not review his coaches until the end of the season, and he has consistently said that and done that. He has not broken his policy for Coach Fran and this season.
"So, anybody reporting any done deal or communication or talks or buyouts or amounts or anything of the sort is simply reporting a falsehood."
Jones said no one has approached the A&M board of regents about buyout talks, although news reports Monday indicated otherwise.
Citing anonymous sources, ESPN.com and CBSSports.com posted stories online that said A&M and Franchione had begun negotiations to buy out his contract. CBSSports' story initially said Franchione had agreed to a buyout. The story was later edited to say Franchione was "on the verge" of a buyout.
The San Antonio Express-News combined both stories and added that running backs coach Kenith Pope could become the interim coach. The details about Pope were later removed from the newspaper's Web site.
The Houston Chronicle reported Monday on its Web site that A&M presented Franchione with a buyout sum of $1.9 million. The story also said Byrne enlisted sports consultant Chuck Neinas to help with the coaching search. A call to Neinas' home in Boulder, Colo., was not returned.
That entire story later was removed from the Web site.
"You can't keep people from voicing their opinions," Jones said. "That's the beauty of being American. But I just wish people would continue supporting the team and hope that people wouldn't spread vicious rumors without knowing the facts."
Byrne declined comment about the reports Monday night at an A&M men's basketball exhibition game at Reed Arena.
As he's stated numerous times, Byrne said Franchione's job status "will be part of my postseason review."
A&M sports information director Alan Cannon also issued a statement Monday trying to debunk the Internet stories.
"There are several false rumors circulating regarding the Texas A&M football program," Cannon said. "Bill Byrne has repeatedly said he evaluates his programs at the end of each season and I have received no indication that he has changed his stance.
"Dennis Franchione is the head football coach at Texas A&M and is currently working on a game plan to face a top 10 football team in the Missouri Tigers."
Either way, it surely wasn’t supposed to end that way. What a total, utter failure.
Meanwhile, Jason Terry carries the Mavs offense late …and the Rockets do what the Rockets do…
As Jason Terry turned unconscious, the Rockets must have flashed back to the 2005 playoffs when the smiling, head-banded bandit stole the first-round series.
On Monday night, this time only an early division win on the line, Terry robbed the previously unbeaten Rockets of their momentum and lifted the shorthanded Mavericks to an inspired 107-98 victory at sold-out American Airlines Center.
Terry began the game in his new sixth-man role, but needing a burst, coach Avery Johnson sent him in to start the second half over J.J. Barea.
It was lights out. Terry hit for 11 in the quarter and 20 in the half to finish with a team-high 31 points, five assists, four rebounds and no turnovers as he triggered an initially sleepy transition game.
Terry nearly matched Tracy McGrady's game-high 35 points, but was far more efficient, hitting on 11 of 17 shots while McGrady was 12-of-31.
"Jet is really playing some good basketball for us," Johnson said. "He just had that look in his eyes, and his shot really looked good. He just gave us a huge spark."
Terry outscored the Rockets 10-0 during a stretch at the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth that flipped a 75-70 deficit into an 80-75 lead.
Then he was a catalyst in a 10-2 run, capped by his assist on a Dirk Nowitzki 3-pointer for a 101-92 lead with 2:56 to go.
"We wanted to close out that quarter strong because they had made a little run on us," Terry said. "Our objective was to get back at them quickly and that is what happened."
Johnson praised his team's depth in the win over Sacramento on Saturday, when Barea broke out for 25 points. Monday, against a Rockets team that was 2-0 on the road and 3-0 overall, the Mavs played without Devin Harris for a second game and upcoming power forward Brandon Bass was a late scratch with a sprained left ankle.
Already missing Erick Dampier, it figured to be a long night in the low post for the Mavs. But, just as Terry has been a tremendous spark off the bench, connecting on 30 of 50 shots in the first four games, DeSagana Diop has performed his own handy work as the starting center.
Houston's 7-foot-6 Yao Ming got his 21 points, but took just 12 shots. Diop, at 7-foot, tied his career high with 10 points and had the team's first double-double of the season with 13 rebounds. He also had four blocks, including a fourth-quarter swat of Yao.
Nowitzki scored 19 points on 7-of-20 shooting and Josh Howard added 21 points, including 8-of-8 at the free-throw line, six rebounds and four assists.
Houston’s Report on the game …I fear the Rockets, but they are going to have to learn to step up at crunch time…
New coach. New system. A bunch of new teammates.
Yet when it was time for the Rockets to truly measure themselves against a team with the elite status they covet in the only time of the game that really mattered, nothing changed.
The Rockets traded punches with the Mavericks down to the final five minutes on Monday. But with the outcome on the line, the Rockets broke down as the Mavericks surged to a 107-98 win at American Airlines Center and left with a taunting reminder of the distance to their destination.
So familiar was the inability to seize chances that Yao Ming described it with the most profane words in the recent Rockets lexicon: "Game 7."
"I think we're just not tough enough to win this game in the fourth quarter," Yao said. "You can see that. Turnovers (during) their roll. Didn't run back. Don't locate people. I think that's how we lose in Game 7."
Late in the game, the Rockets busted three consecutive defensive rotations and left Dirk Nowitzki wide open on a break. With consecutive Rockets turnovers and Tracy McGrady's miss, the Mavericks took command.
To the Stars, where they have really lowered everyone’s expectations over the last homestand….well, here they are again, teasing us with a domination of the Ducks again …
It would be easy to single out the line of Brenden Morrow, Mike Ribeiro and Jere Lehtinen for its role in a 5-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.
After all, the trio kept up its meteoric scoring pace by finding the net three times, giving it 17 of the team's last 23 goals.
But to say the Ribeiro line dominated the contest would be to miss out on the beauty and simplicity of a team game that featured some of the best individual performances of the season.
Rookie Matt Niskanen and veteran Sergei Zubov were nearly flawless, playing off of each other and artfully dodging the Ducks' forecheck. Marty Turco made some big stops early and seemed at ease in goal while stopping 19 shots for the shutout.
The second line of Jussi Jokinen, Mike Modano and Chris Conner created several scoring opportunities, and the fourth line of Todd Fedoruk, Steve Ott and Krys Barch answered the physical bell against a tough Ducks team that last season led the NHL in fighting majors.
Mix in the most physical game of the year by defenseman Mattias Norstrom and another great penalty-killing night for Niklas Hagman, and you have as close to perfect as you could ask.
The only thing that was missing was Modano tying the record for points by an American-born player. Modano was held off of the scoresheet, so his pursuit of Phil Housley's 1,232 points (he's one point short) will resume Wednesday, when the Stars play at San Jose.
Keep Conner in, Miettinen out.
Report from the LA Times …
Dallas again brought the worst out of the Ducks as the Stars took a late first-period lead and blew the game wide open in the second to deal Anaheim its most lopsided loss of the season, 5-0, at the Honda Center.
So much for the Ducks' modest two-game winning streak. After a few steps forward, it's back to square one.
"That's not the type of game you want to see, especially after the last couple," Ducks captain Chris Pronger said. "I thought we were making strides and starting to do some good things out on the ice.
"Today, as a group, we weren't able to accomplish anything."
The Ducks (6-8-2) play their next eight games against division opponents, but Dallas already has two wins against them. One of their worst games was in Dallas on Oct. 20 when they went down meekly, 3-1, in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the score.
Their performance Monday made for a challenge to the throne of "worst game of the season."
Consider that the Stars haven't exactly enforced their will in a division full of teams trying to find themselves. Dallas (6-6-2) was ready to hit the road after losing all three games on its last homestand.
Now the Stars are tied with the Ducks and Kings, all three sitting one point behind San Jose, which is 7-6-1.
"They've beaten us twice, and they've handled us easily," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said of Dallas.
It wasn't so bad early. The Ducks controlled play for the first 10 minutes and were their usual physical selves, with gritty winger Brad May winning a fight with Stars forward Krys Barch to energize the 17,174 in attendance.
But two power-play chances went dry and Dallas got a late man advantage as a result of center Ryan Getzlaf's roughing penalty. Mike Ribeiro managed to tip in a loose puck past Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere during a scramble in front of the net.
Things quickly went from bad to worse. Jussi Jokinen, Brenden Morrow and Jere Lehtinen all scored in the second and Giguere was pulled, with Ilya Bryzgalov playing the third period. Chris Conner added his second career goal for Dallas.
Rangers Off-season List …
The Rangers have a long shopping list for this off-season -- if the price is right.
Their most glaring need? Center field, where they used Marlon Byrd at the end of 2007, even though Byrd is better-suited for a corner outfield spot. The good news for Texas is that center field is the deepest position in the open market.
At the general managers meetings this week in Florida, Rangers GM Jon Daniels will be gauging trade interest and pinpointing players they want when free agency begins next week.
"We're open to doing something if it benefits us and it fills a need for us," he said. "But we're not looking to trade kids. We're looking to keep our core and build around it."
The Rangers' needs and some of the available free-agent options:
1. CF: Torii Hunter, Aaron Rowand, Andruw Jones, Mike Cameron, Kenny Lofton
2. Reliever: Armando Benitez, Eric Gagne, Todd Jones, Ron Mahay, Kerry Wood
3. DH: Mike Sweeney, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza
4. 1B: Sean Casey, Ryan Klesko, Doug Mientkiewicz
5. Corner OF: Milton Bradley, Geoff Jenkins, Cliff Floyd, Bobby Kielty, Trot Nixon
This Winter’s Top 50 Free Agents …
Colts pipe in crowd noise? …
In case the New England Patriots’ fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Indianapolis Colts did not do enough to stoke the N.F.L.’s best rivalry, what came afterward surely will.
The National Football League cleared the Colts on Monday of complaints made by the Patriots — and first reported by Yahoo Sports — that the Colts had pumped artificial crowd noise into the RCA Dome during Sunday’s game.
An odd reverberating sound pattern could be heard on the CBS broadcast, but not inside the stadium. A statement released by the N.F.L. said CBS had explained the “unusual audio moment” as being the result of tape feedback.
The Colts (7-1) had been suspected by opponents of pumping up the crowd noise in the already thunderous RCA Dome, but they have never been found in violation of the rules.
“We trust this will put an end to the ridiculous and unfounded accusations that the Colts artificially enhanced crowd noise at the RCA Dome in any way,” the Colts said in a statement.
The allegations will do nothing to enhance the frosty relationship between the organizations.
Coach Bill Belichick also said Monday that the Patriots (9-0) did not have use of the coach-to-quarterback communication system.
“Basically, we didn’t have a coach-to-quarterback operation, so we had to signal in all of the plays, which is unusual, but that’s the way it was,” Belichick said in Foxborough, Mass. “What all was going on, I can’t tell you, but I can tell you that, from a functional standpoint, the coach-to-quarterback was basically useless.”
Here is a funny NFC East preseason prediction …enjoy.
I lived in Dallas from 2001-2006 and moved to Seattle this past January (still streaming the lil ticket, naturally) and don't have any attachment to the Sonics outside of residing in the same city. I do, however, think it is obvious that the Sonics will fail in Oklahoma, and that another team would probably be moved to Seattle within 5 or 10 years.
If you deam the Sonics worthy of your help, please encourage NBA fans to visit http://saveoursonics.org/ and send emails from NBA.com (free time killers at the office!).
It may be a lot to ask of the Maverick faithful, but Stern now has 10 days to form a relocation committee comprised of at least five NBA Board of Governor members, and that group then has 120 days to file a report to the full board of owners and make a recommendation of whether or not to accept the move to Oklahoma. That gives us roughly four months to raise a stink.
Seinfeld – Larry King Gold
Barch vs Shawn Thornton 10/07