Texas A&M will make the transition to the SEC with a new head football coach.
Mike Sherman was fired Thursday, a week after the Aggies wrapped up their regular season with a 27-25 loss to the Longhorns. Texas A&M awaits a bowl invitation at 6-6, a disappointing mark for a team that came into the season ranked in the top 10 of this year’s pre-season polls. Sherman posted a 25-25 record in four years as the Aggies’ head football coach, the first two of which resulted in losing records before a nine-win season that preceded this year’s flop.
Not only did Texas A&M lose half of their regular season games this year but they did so in excruciating fashion, as blowing second-half leads became a trademark of Sherman’s squad. The Aggies blew double-digit leads in five of their six defeats, including a 17-point advantage that was erased by Oklahoma State in the first meeting of top-10 teams at Kyle Field since 1975.
Texas A&M had a 35-17 halftime lead over Arkansas, a team that was ranked No. 3 in the nation a week ago. Two overtime losses, including a quadruple-overtime, heartbreaking 53-50 loss to Kansas State, didn’t help Sherman’s case.
But the nail in the coffin was likely the two-point defeat Texas handed his Texas A&M team this Thanksgiving. In the final meeting against the Longhorns before the Aggies leave the Big 12, Texas A&M scored the game’s first 13 points before being outscored 17-0 in the third quarter and watching Justin Tucker hit a 40-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. With that gut-wrenching loss taking place in College Station, Sherman was unable to survive that game, his last as the Aggies’ head coach.
The frontrunner to replace Sherman is former Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kevin Sumlin, who has led Houston to a 12-0 record and likely a BCS berth should the Cougars beat Southern
Mississippi in the Conference USA title game Saturday. But the Aggies could use a defensive-minded SEC man like Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, whose name was been associated with several head coaching openings, including the one at Mississippi.
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen could get a call from College Station, but there’s a good chance he leaves Starkville for Penn State. And don’t count out Louisville head coach Charlie Strong, who was a Texas A&M graduate assistant in 1985.
Sherman should land on his feet as he is still respected as an impressive offensive mind. He’s even rumored to be in the running to become the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach. The Aggies owe Sherman $5.8 million as their athletic department continues to rack up costs with the exit fee to join the SEC set at $28 million, although it’s believed to be negotiable.
But the millions that Texas A&M is willing to pay to part ways with Sherman goes to show how much pressure the fans put on it to replace him and how badly the Aggies felt that they needed a new head football coach.