Dallas From the looks of it, an unranked team defeating the No. 1 team in the country late in the season no longer carries the cachet it once did.
You make this judgment based on a number of factors, starting with the fact that the pot is still boiling down in College Station.
First clue: You write that R.C. Slocum saved his job by beating No. 1 Oklahoma, and most of the e-mails you get are from Aggies with mixed feelings or mad that you'd consider him safe.
Not a good sign for R.C.
Second clue: Texas A&M; officials now say they could name an athletic director fairly soon, perhaps within the next couple of weeks, as opposed to earlier statements that indicated the search could run into January.
This was the primary problem with a coaching change all along. How could you name a new AD that late and still get a new head coach without damaging recruiting?
But, all of a sudden, the timetable moved up, perhaps not so coincidentally about the time Missouri finished off the Aggies at Kyle Field.
Third clue: The only potential AD identified from the committee's short list reportedly is Missouri's Michael Alden, which leads us to the fourth clue ...
He has a history with Dennis Franchione.
Few candidates are hotter than coach Fran. He did a bang-up job at TCU and has steered Alabama through NCAA travails and was once rumored for Notre Dame, which is like calling someone a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Getting close is good enough for your resume.
And his connections with Alden are interesting. Fran's first stop in Texas was in 1990-91, when he was head coach at Southwest Texas State.
In '92, Fran left San Marcos for New Mexico, the same year Alden became an associate athletic director at New Mexico. They worked together until '97, when Alden left to become athletic director at ...
Southwest Texas State.
Fran helped out Alden, and they're still tight. Before Fran left Fort Worth for Tuscaloosa, Alden told TCU officials he was going to contact their coach about the Missouri job.
Fran had no intention of going to Missouri, but he listened because of their relationship, which leads us to ...
Fifth clue: If a new AD were expected to fire Slocum and bring in a new coach, he'd better have one in his trailer. Expedites matters a little if they happen to be friends.
Sixth clue: A&M; has always been on Fran's wish list. Notre Dame, Texas, A&M; and Arizona State were the four stipulations in his TCU contract when it came to potential buyouts.
Seventh clue: A&M; is in Texas.
"They loved living in Texas," one of Fran's old coaching buddies said. "His wife especially loved it."
And you hear they don't like it much in Alabama. Or at least that's another rumor. Fran insists it isn't true, but you've got to believe life as a college football coach in the Deep South is a little different from how it is here, where fans expect a college coach to win.
In Alabama, they expect you to win, and when the water gets high enough, they expect you to walk on it.