Mike Sherman fired
By Greg Tepper // TexasFootball.com
If you haven’t heard the news out of College Station, Aggies head football coach Mike Sherman has been fired, athletic director Bill Byrne announced on Thursday night.
A number of scattershooting thoughts on the move:
-Sherman exits College Station with a 25-25 record in four seasons at Texas A&M, giving him the sixth-worst winning percentage of the 22 coaches in Aggies history. Now, in a lot of ways, that’s an unfair way of measuring Sherman, who took over in the wake of what was a seemingly disastrous tenure of Dennis Franchione, but the bottom line is that the Aggie faithful expects more, and he didn’t deliver.
-Speaking of the Aggie faithful: for better or for worse, there may not be an alumni base with more legitimate influence on their respective athletic program than Texas A&M. Aggie fans want the SEC? Boom; they’re there. Aggie fans want Sherman fired? Boom; it’s done. The wisdom of both of those moves, both of which are, from where I’m sitting, being generally lauded by Aggie fans and alumni, remains to be seen, but you can’t say the administration doesn’t listen to its fans (and, more importantly, its donors).
-It’s time for Texas A&M to develop an identity. For years, it was all about the Wrecking Crew defense, that A&M hung its hat on defense, that this was a program built on stopping the ball. But reality tends to tell us that the era of the Wrecking Crew is either dead or in deep hibernation. Since 2007, Texas A&M’s national rank in total defense: 83rd, 115th, 105th, 55th, 66th. Is A&M a defensive program? Not lately. Is it a running team, a passing team, a pro-set team? What, exactly, is Texas A&M all about? If you want to find one single indictment of the Mike Sherman era in College Station, it’s that you never really knew what his teams were from year to year, making it harder to recruit elite-caliber kids to fill specific roles.
-Say what you want about Mike Sherman deserving to keep his job or not (I tend to agree with the move, but that’s neither here nor there): this is an exceptionally risky move in the short-term for A&M. Not only is it costly in a monetary standpoint — Sherman will be bought out for about $5.8 million — but lest we forget that A&M is in the middle of a monumental shift to the SEC. When you pile a coaching change on top of that, man, that’s a lot of moving parts. It will be up to athletic director Bill Byrne (or the entirety of the athletic department, if Byrne, who hired Sherman, gets the ax next) to successfully navigate what could be treacherous waters of change.
-Speaking of recruiting, I really wonder what this is going to do to what was looking like a dynamite class for A&M going into 2012. Look at some of the names committed to the Aggies: Spring Dekaney RB Trey Williams, Fort Bend Hightower QB (more likely ATH) Bralon Addison, Klein Forest QB Matt Davis, Denton Ryan LB Jordan Richmond, among many others. These are elite-level recruits, in my mind, guys that every school across the nation would love to have, let alone every school in Texas. History tells us that schools that fire their coach lose at least a couple of recruits; the next month or so will be very interesting to watch from an A&M recruiting perspective.
-If I’m Texas A&M, my list of possible replacements are as follows, in order of priority:
1) Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart
2) Houston coach Kevin Sumlin
3) Air Force coach Troy Calhoun
-And just for the heck of it, a couple of wild card entries I’ll throw out there (again, I have no information on who A&M is leaning toward): What about Jim Tressel? I know he’s radioactive right now, but if you want the best coach on the market, he’s probably it. What about Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables? He’s the perpetually hot name, but seems to have a huge loyalty to Bob Stoops. What about Mark Mangino?
-And finally…what about Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz? I know, I know, he’d never do it…would he?