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The Path To Nowhere

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How far have the Texas A&M Aggies fallen in recent years? One could easily argue, what with pity stories being written about them in the mainstream press, that it's the worst situation in two decades.

The story linked to above, a CBS Sportsline column by Dennis Dodd, illuminates the growing frustration in Aggieland these days. The story, as its written, asks from the reader a measure of sympathy, complete with woe-is-me quotes like this one from Coach Fran:

"We play tough teams," [Franchione] said Wednesday during Big 12 media days. "Not too many years ago. when there was a Big Eight and Southwest Conference, nobody in the nation would play Oklahoma, Nebraska, [and] Texas in the same season. We're going to do it in November."

I will now pause to go fetch my violin.

This man wants your sympathy.

On second thought, I'll go fetch the quotes from Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, speaking at the same Big 12 media session. Upon being asked whether playing in the South division with Texas and Oklahoma is overwhelming, Leach responds:

I don't feel it's like that. You can go out there and improve and play the best you can. If you don't like the results, you have to play better. All you have is what you're capable of, and you have to be sure that you get all of that. If you do, then you put yourself in the best position to win, and hopefully you do quite a bit of the time, you know. Hopefully you do all the time.

Based on the quotes alone, you wouldn't be faulted for thinking that Franchione was the one coaching at a school with inherent disadvantages. In reality, of course, Franchione is sitting at the helm of a program with rich tradition, more resources, and an easier path to being competitive at the highest level. Leach has done more with less, and it's not hard to see why.

Anyone who's played or been around football for any amount of time will tell you how important the right attitude is to achieving your goals. Is it any wonder, then, that a team isn't performing well when its coach is, for all intents and purposes, making excuses before the season even begins?

With the pride and commitment to excellence that surround Texas A&M football, I have no doubt that this program will one day return to a period of elite success. Is there any reason these days, though, to think that it's going to happen with Dennis Franchione?