How bad were Franchione, Callahan?

May, 22, 2009
5/22/09
8:59
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

As anybody who reads this blog knows, I love all lists.

I came across an interesting list this morning at the Bleacher Report ranking the 11 worst college coaching performances of the 21st century.

It wasn't surprising that the Big 12 was solidly represented with two recent coaches who were fired after unceremonious struggles at traditional powers.

In a list that was topped by Ty Willingham from his Washington days and also included Syracuse's Greg Robinson and BYU's Gary Crowton among its top three spots, the Big 12 also was prominently highlighted with Bill Callahan of Nebraska ranking fourth and Texas A&M's Dennis Franchione coming in ninth.

Here's what the author had to say about Callahan:

"Twenty-two losses in four years. Legendary Cornhusker coach Bob Devaney lost only 20 games in his entire career at Nebraska. Frightening."

Or about Franchione:

"He wasn't that bad at Alabama (17-8), and he was pretty good at TCU and his other stops, but in College Station he went 32-28."

It's fair to remember that Callahan had taken the Cornhuskers to back-to-back bowl games in his previous two seasons, including a Big 12 North title in 2006. But his team's defensive struggles were a factor he couldn't overcome.

And Franchione, who qualified the Aggies for three bowl games in his final four seasons before he was fired, had his moments as well. He left with a two-game winning streak over Texas, becoming only the second coach in school history to leave with an existing multi-season winning streak over the Longhorns.

The other was Jackie Sherrill.

But his admission of selling "state secrets" through his VIP Newsletter eventually pulled his program down.

Today, few fans of either program were sorry to see Callahan and Franchione go.

But it was still interesting to me to see them ranked among the biggest coaching flops in recent history. While they struggled building their programs, I don't know if I would necessarily go that far. 

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