Duke University fired head football coach Carl Franks Sunday and named defensive coordinator Ted Roof interim head coach for the remaining five games of the season.
Athletic Director Joe Alleva will form a consulting committee to advise him in his national pursuit of a long-term replacement for Franks. The search began immediately after the firing, and Alleva mentioned Roof as a possible candidate for the job, though the athletic director would not release the names of any of the other candidates. Alleva based his decision to dismiss Franks, who had a 7-45 record in his five-year tenure at Duke, on the football team's inability to improve this season.
"I felt like our football team wasn't going in the right direction," Alleva said. "I said all along that Carl [Franks] was my coach as long as I felt that we were making progress and we were going in the right direction. This year I haven't had that feeling. Even in the games we won, I didn't feel like we were making the kinds of progress that we needed to be making. As I told the team earlier today, there's more talent on this team than what we're showing on the football field." Alleva also mentioned his own responsibility to the football players and the alumni, and that Franks was not progressing in the right direction. He said he felt that the players deserved the best experience they could possibly have, but that the 2003 campaign was less than first rate.
Alleva made Franks aware of the firing at 7 a.m. Sunday morning inside of Alleva's office.
"It went fine," Alleva said. "Carl's got a lot of integrity and a lot of class. He handled it very well."
There were no direct decisions to relieve Franks from his duties before Saturday's game against Wake Forest, a contest in which the Blue Devils trailed 42-0 at halftime.
"Halftime of the game yesterday [against Wake Forest] was the straw that broke the camel's back," Alleva said. "I was a bit disappointed with the Virginia game, I was a bit disappointed with the Northwestern game, and yesterday at halftime, frankly, was embarrassing." Roof, who arrived at Duke at the start of the 2002 season after being a renowned defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, focused on his disappointment for Franks in his remarks to the press. But he also said he was "unintimidated" at the prospect of being the head coach, and was already focused on advancing his career head coaching record to 1-0 for the N.C. State matchup this Saturday.
Franks, who was not at the press conference Sunday, made his players aware of the firing himself at a 2:30 p.m. team meeting after their regularly scheduled special-teams practice was canceled.
"Even if I never play football again...whether I'm in a corporation or I'm in a business or whatever I'm doing, I never want to sit through another meeting like that again," running back Alex Wade said. "It's just something you don't want to see happen to somebody. I'm sure there are fans out there that are jumping for joy...there are alumni that are pleased, but what people don't realize--and maybe that's the problem with college sports--is that this is peoples' lives here, a career. These are people who have wives, kids, houses, mortgages, so there's no celebration that the man lost his job."
Taking everything into consideration, though, Alleva felt it was the right thing to do for the football team.
"I kept Coach Franks around for this year because last year, we lost five games by a total of 17 points," Alleva said. "We were showing that improvement that I alluded to earlier. That's why I gave him a chance to coach this team this year. I'm disappointed for Carl. I feel bad that it didn't work out, but it just didn't work out."
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.