COLLEGE STATION (AP) — Texas A&M defensive coordinator Gary Darnell was named interim head coach Saturday, a day after Dennis Franchione resigned.
Darnell, 59, joined Franchione’s staff in 2006 after serving eight seasons as head coach at Western Michigan. He had been out of coaching a year when Franchione hired him.
“Gary has head coaching experience and our young men and coaching staff respect him,” A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said. “He will lead our team in our bowl preparations and during the game.”
Franchione stepped down after the Aggies defeated Texas 38-30 at Kyle Field on Friday. A&M (7-5, 4-4 Big 12) went 32-28 in Franchione’s five seasons, but went 19-21 in Big 12 games and lost 12 of 15 meetings against main rivals Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech.
The Aggies won their first three games in 2007, but the season began to spiral downward in a 34-17 loss to Miami. A week later, a newspaper reported that Franchione’s personal assistant had been sending out e-mails with inside information about the program to boosters for a fee. Byrne admonished Franchione and ordered him to shut down his personal Web site.
Despite beating the Longhorns for the second straight season, A&M lost four of its last six games.
After Franchione resigned, Byrne said in a prepared statement the school had completed its investigation into the e-mail scandal. Byrne said he was convinced that Franchione “did not intentionally, knowingly, or directly participate in actions that were inappropriate or in violation of rules or policies.”
Byrne did not answer questions after reading his statement.
Darnell served as an interim head coach at Florida in 1989 after Galen Hall was fired. The Gators went 3-4 under Darnell. Steve Spurrier became Florida’s coach in 1990, and Darnell went to Notre Dame as an assistant.
The Aggies expect to get a bowl invitation next Sunday.
“I have a great deal of faith in our staff and our players,” Darnell said. “The values and virtues they have learned throughout their career here at Texas A&M will help deal with this situation. They have a great deal of character.”