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Tide fans taking out anger on Fran bobbleheads

Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Coach Fran's bobbling head may be rolling for some Alabama fans.

Franchione Imports Seven Tide Assistants
Dennis Franchione announced the hiring of eight new Texas A&M staff members Tuesday, including seven assistant coaches. All served on Franchione's staff at Alabama.

Additions include a new director of football operations, Charley North, a former longtime assistant coach at Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Named as assistant coaches were Alabama aides Stan Eggen, Lee Fobbs, Jim Bob Helduser, Kenith Pope, Melvin Smith, Chris Thurmond and Mark Tommerdahl. In his announcement, Franchione did not designated specific coaching duties.

At Alabama, Eggen coached the defensive line, Fobbs the running backs, Helduser the offensive line, Pope the receivers, Smith the safeties, Thurmond the cornerbacks and Tommerdahl the tight ends and special teams.

"I've worked with these coaches, and we're a team," Franchione said. "Being familiar with one another and our system will help move this process forward, and our players will see that their coaches are on the same page."

The plans of Franchione's two coordinators at Alabama have not been announced. Defensive coordinator Carl Torbush is believed to be pursuing head-coaching possibilities. Les Koenning Jr., a former Texas A&M assistant under R.C. Slocum, served the last two seasons as Franchione's offensive coordinator at Alabama.
-- news services

More than 4,000 bobblehead dolls of former Alabama coach Dennis Franchione, who left abuptly for Texas A&M last week, remain unsold. Joseph Turner, president of Yell Crew, the Crimson Tide's football fan association, says some students are getting the little statues and breaking them.

"They don't have a lot of sentimental value any more,'' said Turner, 21. "Me and my girlfriend are going to get a little rope and hang it down from the side of her balcony with a sign that says, 'Sell out.'''

Eleven thousand Coach Fran bobblehead dolls with a white shirt were given out and sold as part of a fast-food restaurant promotion. Another 5,000 dolls, with Crimson Tide red shirts, were bought by the university this fall for sale as part of a limited edition series.

Only a couple hundred sold, leaving university officials looking for new options now that Franchione has left and is viewed by some fans in a negative light for not telling his players in person about his decision to leave.

Paul Isom, director of the university's Office of Student Media, said the office was offered 4,000 of the dolls at $3 apiece, but the university withdrew the idea and the office decided against it, too.

"We considered all sorts of things, like giving people a driver, yelling 'fore!' and letting them tee off on them for five bucks a pop, but we had a couple of reservations about it,'' he told the Birmingham Post-Herald in a story Tuesday.

He said the student newspaper, The Crimson-White, has finished publishing for the semester, making bobblehead bashing hard to promote.

"And it might come across as being too mean-spirited,'' Isom said.

One thousand of the dolls are being auctioned on one of the university's Web sites,, but interest has been minimal. Alabama officials have even asked Texas A&M's marketing department about buying some of the dolls, but eventually any dolls still around will probably be destroyed.

Daniel Hopper, director of the university's athletic marketing department, said that might make a winner of those who got a red-shirted Fran bobblehead.

"It's going to be a truly unique collectible,'' Hopper said. "It's probably hard to find something more limited out there.''

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Mike and Mike: New Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione gets Just Shut Up Award for the way he left Tuscaloosa.

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