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Defensive coordinator Darnell named A&M interim head coach

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- 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."