2007 Turkeys of the Year

Priscilla Slade is the biggest gobbler of them all

You really can't blame Keller. Her vision of customer service is deeply ingrained.

You probably don't know it, but Keller comes from the family that owns the famous Keller's Drive-In in Dallas. It's kind of like a local Sonic, except they sell beer.

We called the Drive-In two nights running, ten minutes before they closed, trying to see if they'd take a late order. Both times the phone line was busy for the entire ten minutes.

We called the next day as soon as they opened.

Keller's: Keller's.

Houston Press: Yeah, hi. I was trying to see if this number actually worked, because the last two nights I called for like ten to 15 minutes and it was always busy.

K: Sir, this is the only business line we have and it's just sometimes, it's really busy. I don't know, I wasn't here last night, but this is the correct number.

HP: All right. And what time do you close?

K: On the weeknights they close at 11:30.

HP: Okay, so I can call at like 11:20 or so and come pick up something?

K: I would take it until at least 11:15; that would be the latest I would call.

HP: 11:15? But what if it was a matter of life or death?

K: See, sometimes if it's — Are you calling for a food order?

HP: Yeah.

K: So it's a matter of life and death over a food order?

HP: Well, you know, sometimes you really need that burger.

K: Well, sometimes — I'm going to tell you now, the winter months are coming and if it's cold at night and there's no business, they do close early at times.

HP: Ah, good to know. Thanks!

So remember, people: Whether you're ordering a burger or trying to keep the state from killing a mentally retarded person, if you're dealing with a Keller, keep your eye on the clock!

Sports Turkey of the Year: Dennis Franchione

How can we put this kindly? It takes a lot to be an embarrassment to Texas A&M football.

Aggies are people who aren't bothered by the fact that a fall weekend in College Station feels like it should be filmed by Leni Riefenstahl; that everyone in the world except them thinks they are a ­college-football irrelevancy (an especially whiny, self-delusional irrelevancy); and that they are actually proud to be the campus that is home to the George Bush library.

If you're not embarrassed by any of that, it's tough to get you embarrassed. But Dennis Franchione, the one-time-beloved "Coach Fran," has pulled it off. (If anyone could do it, it would be the classy guy who bailed on players of his former team, Alabama, by telling them by phone that, despite earlier denials, he was leaving.)

It's not the fact that Franchione's only managed a barely .500 record in his five seasons at A&M, with no bowl wins. Or that he's never finished better than third in the six-team Big 12 South.

It's his incredible, jaw-droppingly dumb idea to sell inside information via newsletter to big-bucks boosters.

For $1,200, Franchione kept subscribers up to date on:

1) Player injuries that were not otherwise disclosed. Thus possibly violating federal rules on patient privacy, and thus certainly giving valuable tips to potential gamblers.

2) Recruiting updates. Thus probably violating NCAA rules that forbid a coach from publicly discussing specific recruits.

3) Criticism of his current players. Thus making sure the subscribers knew that any problems with the Aggies' record were the result of the dumb players and not the brilliant Coach Fran.

Who would pay $1,200 for such insights? (Besides, of course, gamblers.)

Part of the answer came in the e-mails A&M released in a document dump meant to quiet the storm. One Dallas lawyer, complaining about Franchione's conduct, began his note by saying, "God, Family, Country and Texas A&M Football. In order, those are the priorities of my life."

About two dozen people paid for the "VIP Newsletter," which was actually ghostwritten by one of Franchione's underlings.

An example of what they received:

"One of the main topics of today's meeting — and this obviously is a totally confidential inside bit of information that Coach was willing to share with you that will not be made public: whether defensive end (redacted name) will be in the 105 (number of players on the roster). He has pushed the envelope on academic requirements, and the coaches have leaned toward making a statement by omitting him from the 105..."

"Pushed the envelope on academic requirements" at A&M? That's some impressive pushing.

Was the newsletter worth it to subscribers? Not according to Lance Zierlein, co-host of the morning show at KGOW-AM.

His Five Reasons Not to Pay for Coach Fran's Newsletter:

5) Do you really want to pay $1,200 for "inside info" from a coach nicknamed Franny?

4) I'll give you some free information: Fran won't win many in November, and the passing game still sucks.

3) It's disjointed and poorly written. Just like Fran's offensive playbook.

2) $1,200 might be better spent on slush funds for cornerbacks and linebackers.

1) You could get the same information — plus some great recipes! — from Kim Franchione's newsletter, for only $600.

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