Dennis Francione, the recently resigned head football coach of Texas A&M University has endured a very difficult season this year. But the difficulty was only partially on the field of play. The majority of it was self-inflicted when he was caught selling an unauthorized e-newsletter containing confidential information to supporters of Aggie football. The content of the newsletter was injury reports on players and their expected readiness for the next game. I suppose that one could naively imagine that all of the subscribers were concerned medical professionals who could offer suggestions for healing, or those who had volunteered to pray for injured players. But a more plausible explanation, given the cost at what I believe was a $1,200 subscription, was that the inside information might be useful for the purpose of betting on the outcome of Texas A&M football games. On top of that, Francione failed to report his earnings from this non-coaching activity to the University, as was required by his contract.
Were Francione’s actions a result of extraordinary bad judgment, a misguided moral compass, or outright stupidity? Well, there might be yet another possibility. And it had not occurred to me what that was until Friday night after the game and his immediate resignation. Francione’s departure from A&M was a foregone conclusion. While he would not talk about it in the final weeks of the season, the news media were reporting, without any equivocation, that Friday’s game would be his last. I think most people expected an announcement of his termination over the weekend, or early next week. That timing would have allowed the headlines following Friday’s game to read something like Aggies upset Longhorns. But, no! The story line was Fran resigns! That other possibility I was considering is that perhaps Francione a narcissist? The characteristics that define narcissism (entitlement, immunity, self-interest, exploitation and exhibitionism), may have been what drove this man to do what was so obviously unethical with the newsletter. And it might well have driven the timing of his resignation announcement. Rather than allow the team that he claimed to love so much to be in the spotlight as a result of their (surprise) victory over t.u., Francione upstaged them and stole the moment. Could he not have waited 24 hours to make his announcement? Even 12 hours to get into the next day’s news cycle?
One might argue that big egos serve big time coaches well. After all, it bolsters confidence in a business that requires bushels of it. But NFL coaches Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith, both men of deep Christian faith, demonstrate a humble attitude that could well be emulated by men in all professions. Dennis Francione needs a brand of humility that comes not from the forced resignation that he has just endured, but from a God who expects that everything we do be to HIS glory and not for our own. James 4: 6-10 make it clear that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” And provides an imperative: “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” These instructions are not just for Dennis Francione, but for ALL of us, myself included. So, what’s wrong with that guy? Ultimately the same thing that is wrong with all of us…a self-indulgent nature.