Selling siding would have certainly brought more money into Matt Franzen's household.
Driving a cab in Lincoln for six weeks gave Franzen dozens of funny and remarkable stories and "some pretty good tips."
But football is where Franzen is anchored and his wife, Lacey, and 1-year-old daughter, Anna, are happy.
For his remarkable efforts as Doane College football coach, Franzen is honored as the Lincoln Journal Star state college coach of the year.
The Lincoln Northeast graduate took over a decimated program that finished 1-9 and had just 28 players in uniform by the end of the 2006 season. It was the last year of coach Tommie Frazier, who was 3-17 in two years with the Tigers.
Franzen struggled to rebuild a program that had been a national power in the late 1960s and early 1970s and again in the 1990s. His first four teams finished 19-26.
"When we took over, we thought we'd be a conference favorite and took it personally when the GPAC coaches picked us last," Franzen said. "Then we lose 73-0 in our first game and lost to Nebraska Wesleyan 46-7."
Last year, Doane soared to an 8-2 mark — the best record by a Nebraska member of the Great Plains Athletic Conference. The tie for second place in the GPAC standings was the best finish by a Nebraska member in 10 years.
"We got together as a staff after the 3-7 record in 2010 and had a pretty heated meeting," Franzen said. "We expected a gradual climb and we were not progressing at that point."
By the time spring football came around in 2011, the Tigers were set to compete in every aspect of the program.
The competition in scrimmages, in cross-training conditioning drills, in lifting and even the classroom produced a new attitude and a new team last fall.
The Tigers started the season with three wins — 20-8 against Northwestern (Iowa), 27-3 against Nebraska Wesleyan and 43-39 against previously unbeaten Midland. Doane added a fourth victory against a ranked team with a 33-28 win against Dakota Wesleyan. A fourth-and-inches play that Hastings stopped helped the Broncos upset Doane, but the Tigers won the next two games and finished ranked No. 19 in the final poll.
"We believe we can be champions," Franzen said. "I learned from a book by Bill Walsh, 'The Score Takes Care of Itself,' that if you have a standard of performance and a set of standards for everything in the program, you can have a championship team."
The job as head coach hasn't been easy.
Nothing was harder than the 3 a.m. call April 25 when Franzen learned that player Cody Fanning had died in an accident. Fanning was riding in the back of a pickup truck and fell out.
Franzen delivered the eulogy for one of his favorite players.
"Cody is what is a Doane Tiger," Franzen said. "Here was a scout-team kid as a freshman, 5-foot-6, 151-pound defensive back from Wauneta-Palisade. But he wasn't going to stay on the scout team and he wasn't going to stay on the bench. He was knocking people down in practice. He was a good student and a great kid to have on the team.
"That was one of the hardest things I've been through."
Franzen was a first-team NAIA All-America lineman at Doane in 1993. He earned his degree in psychology and took a couple of years searching for a job — thus, installing siding and driving a cab.
Finally, he asked head coach Barney Cotton if he could be a volunteer assistant at Hastings College in the fall of 1996. He eventually was an assistant to Ross Els with the Broncos and assistant head coach at Hastings under Paul Mierkiewicz.
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