The following is an email I just received from a Pittsburg State Gorilla booster who happens to be the president of the Kansas City Gorilla Club. I found his name and email on a web search I was doing to find out more about Fran's early days at Pittsburg State. He was kind enough to email me and provide us all with a few stories that I know you'll enjoy. He's reading this post, so how bout you guys and gals giving Mr. Swanson a big "Go Gorilla" salute for his time and effort. The letter:
All I can say is "Roll Tide Roll". PSU football has a long storied tradition, in fact if you count the wins at both the NAIA Level and the ones at the Division II Level, we are the winningest football team currently in Division II with 550 victories. But, I truly believe we wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for Coach Franchione. I am a College Football junkie, and let me tell you one thing, Coach Fran is the BEST coach I have ever seen or been around. He always has his team prepared and I have never seen a better coach at making adjustments as the game goes along. Coach Fran doesn't care about black or white, he just wants to know can you play football and will you play football his way, period. He will not tolerate laziness and if you are not willing to sacrifice yourself on gameday for the good of the team, then you just made second string.
Bill McMillan, the news editor of the Morning Sun, wrote a book telling the story of PSU Football entitled "Pride, Poise, Power" Pittsburg State University Football 1908-1995. Pages 110-133 discuss the Dennis Franchione Era at PSU along with several photos. I may be biased, but I think you would enjoy some of the other reading as well. Two other sources would be to post a response on d2football.com or TeamKong@yahoogroups.com. both of which the Gorillas visit quite frequently.
Lastly, I will share with you my three most fondest memories of Coach Fran. 1) Coach Fran's first game as head coach of the Gorillas came on 9/14/85 against Arkansas Tech. On the bus trip down to Russellville, AR, Coach Fran designed some phony Wishbone formations to set-up the home team. The Assistant Coaches were watching intently from the press box wondering what type of formations the Gorillas would use, well in pre-game the Gorrilas lined up in the Wishbone the Arkansas Tech assistants hurriedly developed a game plan to attack the Wishbone. But when the game started we lined up in the split-veer offense. The home team had been had. 2) When the Gorillas made the jump to Division II in 1989, nobody gave them any respect as we were picked to finish 4th in our new Conference. The year before the Conference had tri-champions and the Gorillas had to play all those teams on the road. Pitt defeated Truman State 43-0, Southeast Missouri State 47-26, and Central Missouri State 60-5. It became all too apparent that Coach Fran's Gorillas ruled this Jungle and our new conference was going to have to play catch up. 3) That same year of 1989, which was Coach Fran's last year the Gorillas were riding a 43 game regular season win streak and the streak was supposed to end at Arkansas State. Arkansas State had nobody to play for their homecoming so they invited the Gorillas to come to Jonesboro, AR for $30,000 and be served for dinner before the homecoming festivities began. Well, someone forgot to tell the Gorillas this as Coach Fran led the Gorillas to a 34-13 thumping of the Indians in front of 15,000 fans.
Well, let me just say in closing I would be surprised if the Crimson Tide wasn't making some real National Championship noise in less than 5 years. Coach Fran is a winner and he always will be, now he finally has a high profile program to prove it. You have a fine coach, but an even better person. Set back and enjoy the ride as BAMA is back!!!
Kansas City Gorilla Club President