Mike Sherman

Texas A&M
The Aggies finally decided to part ways with head coach Mike Sherman. He was fired early this morning. The Aggies went just 25-25 in his four years at the helm. Some think current Houston coach, Kevin Sumlin, could be his replacement. Jeff Toole, the chief financial officer for the Aggie athletic department, recently admitted to being critical of A&M president R. Bowen Loftin by using an alias on the popular website TexAgs.com. Under the name UtayAg, Toole called Loftin a “putz,” and a “hopelessly under-qualified puppet.”

Oklahoma
Defensive end Frank Alexander had to be helped off the field after an injury last week, but head coach Bob Stoops expects him to play going forward. Wide receiver Jaz Reynolds did not play against Iowa State last week because of suspension but he is also projected to be back in the starting lineup. Junior quarterback Landry Jones made his 35th career start for the Sooners last weekend, moving him in to second place on OU’s all-time list. It was also Jones’ 32nd consecutive start.

Baylor
The Bears’ 66-42 rout of the Red Raiders was the first win for the school in 15 tries. Running back Terrance Ganaway carried the ball for a career-high of 42 times for 246 yards against the Red Raiders. Ganaway also sustained a concussion but returned after sitting out for just a few plays. The Bears will have a chance to win nine games in a season for the first time since the 1986.

Texas Tech
Cornerback Happiness Osunde suffered a serious knee injury last week. He will be evaluated for possible surgery this week. Running back DeAndre Washington and wide receiver Alex Torres will both undergo offseason knee surgery and could miss spring practice. The Red Raider defense gave up an average of 259 yards rushing per game over the course of the year, by far the most in the conference.

Kansas
A terrible season for the Jayhawks came to a close last week as they finished 0-9 in conference play for the first time since 2002. Six of those losses came by 30 points or more, perhaps why coach Turner Gill was given the pink slip this week after just two seasons with the program. No candidates have been named to replace Gill as of yet. The Jayhawks’ defense ranked last nationally in not just one but two categories: total yards (516.4 per game) and points (43.7 per game).

Texas
After picking off his third pass of the season last week, cornerback Quandre Diggs is one pick shy of tying the UT freshman record for interceptions. Running back Joe Bergeron sat out against the Aggies as he is still recovering from a hamstring injury. Texas has held 10 out of 11 opponents under their season rushing averages this year. The Longhorns hold a 73-23-4 advantage all-time over the Bears, although the Bears’ last win of the series came just last year in Austin.

Kansas State
Head coach Bill Snyder is among the finalists chosen for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, annually given to the nation’s most outstanding coach. He could even add a share of the Big 12 conference title to his already impressive resume this season. If the Wildcats defeat Iowa State and the Sooners lose to the Cowboys, both Oklahoma teams along with the Wildcats would finish in a three-way tie for the conference crown. However, if this occurs the Sooners would represent the conference in the Fiesta Bowl.

Iowa State
The Cyclones recently offered a scholarship to junior college transfer Cory Morrissey. Morrissey is a 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end that is transferring from Iowa Western Community College and will be able to participate next season. Cyclones’ head coach Paul Rhoads weighed in on the recent firing of Kansas coach Turner Gill, saying “it’s bad for our profession, coaches getting two years and then being let go. We’re in our third year [at Iowa State] and we’re just now starting to see the physical differences needed to compete in [the Big 12].”

Column

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.

Texas head coach Mack Brown, left, talks with Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman before an NCAA college football game on Thursday, in College Station.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Mike Sherman was fired as Texas A&M’s coach Thursday after the Aggies finished the regular season a disappointing 6-6.

Athletic Director Bill Byrne announced the move in a statement.

Sherman, 25-25 in four seasons at A&M, had three years remaining on his contract and the buyout will be about $5.8 million. He was given a one-year extension to his original contract in July, but it was never executed.
He was hired at the end of the 2007 season three days after Dennis Franchione resigned.

His best and only winning season came last year when the Aggies won their last six regular-season games and lost in the Cotton Bowl to finish 9-4.

“I appreciate Coach Sherman’s selfless service to Texas A&M as our head football coach and his tireless efforts in building leaders of character,” Byrne said in the statement. “He is truly one of the great offensive minds in football, both collegiate and professional, and I know that he has much to offer the game of football in the future.”

Byrne said he will talk with the assistant coaches to decide who will serve as the interim coach for Texas A&M’s bowl game. He also hopes to meet with the team and remaining staff Friday.

Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin thanked Sherman for his contributions to the program and said he created a “solid foundation for Texas A&M to build upon in the future.”

“Decisions of this nature are never easy, and I appreciate the patience of Aggies everywhere as we carefully evaluated the current state of our football program and the prospects for the future,” Loftin said.

The school hasn’t named any candidates, but possible replacements could include Houston coach Kevin Sumlin or Louisville coach Charlie Strong. Sumlin, who has led the seventh-ranked Cougars to a 12-0 record, was an assistant at A&M from 2001-02. Strong also spent time with the Aggies, working as a graduate assistant in 1985.

The Aggies entered this season with 18 returning starters, a top 10 ranking and were expected to contend for the Big 12 championship and be a factor in the national title hunt.

Instead they lost early games to Oklahoma State and Arkansas after holding double-digit halftime leads to fall to 2-2.

They won three in a row after their first skid, but a three game losing streak, which included two overtime losses, ensured the Aggies of a mediocre season. The low point of the season came when Texas A&M ended their more than century-old rivalry with Texas with a 27-25 loss at home on Thanksgiving.

At times, Sherman seemed to be grasping for ways to deal the team as the close losses piled up. Four of their six defeats were by a combined 10 points, including a 53-50 four-overtime loss to Kansas State.

“I’ve never experienced a season like this and I don’t plan on experiencing a season like it again,” Sherman said after the loss to Texas. “This was a very difficult season to swallow. We have good kids, they work hard, but for whatever reason the ball bounced funny for us sometimes, and we didn’t make the play when we need to make it to win the games we didn’t.”

The change gives the Aggies a chance for a fresh start when they move into the SEC next season. They end their time in the Big 12 after a decade filled mostly with disappointing finishes. The team had more than seven wins just twice since 2002.

Printed on December 2, 2011 as: A&M coach fired after spotty year for Aggies

Addie running back Christine Michael is tackled by OU's Travis Lewis (28). Michael tore his ACL this game.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Last week, after Texas’ loss to Missouri, head coach Mack Brown said, “We’ve got us a mess right now.”

Injuries to Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Fozzy Whittaker hurt the Longhorns in their losses to Missouri and Kansas State. Texas A&M can relate.

At the beginning of the season, the Aggies thought they had great depth when it came to running backs.

But that changed when the Aggies fell to Oklahoma 25-41 on November 5th.

Junior running back Christine Michael tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee — ending his season and requiring surgery.

Michael had rushed for 899 yards this season and he averages just less than a hundred a game.

On October 11 of last season, he broke his leg and missed the rest of the season. When Michael was out last year, running back Cyrus Gray stepped up and finished the season with seven straight games of at least 100 rushing yards.

After having two season-ending injuries in a row, head coach Mike Sherman said Michael handled the news of his injury well.

“It’s certainly a disappointment to him and to us,” Sherman said. “He’s in a positive state of mind, at least he was last time I saw him; it’s just part of the game.”

Sherman also said that Gray would have to step up, just as he did in the 2010 season.

Gray, who has 1,045 rushing this season, is currently day-to-day after getting a stress fracture during A&M’s 61-7 rout over Kansas last week. This season is Gray’s second season in a row with 1,000 or more rushing yards.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill said Gray is important to the Aggies and he gets a lot of carries. Ben Malena is also an option at running back.

“He’s a big player for us,” Tannehill said. “We’ll see how it goes. But Malena is a big player as well. He hasn’t seen the reps but he’s a solid running back. We see what he can do in practice every day. I think either way we have confidence.”

Head coach Mike Sherman said he may be able to play on Thursday, even if he doesn’t practice this week. But, he hopes he will be back for Thursday’s game against Texas.

“We need everybody,” Sherman said. “I think that goes without saying. It will be a great ball game and I would like to get everybody out there.”

After Gray left the game on Saturday, Sherman was forced to pull the redshirt off true freshman Will Randolf. He had 37 yards on 10 carries.

“It’s always difficult when you do that, but we talk to those guys every week and talk every morning before the ball game of potentials (redshirts) if certain situations arise,” Tannehill said. “Without knowing Cyrus’ status for the last week, I thought it was important he got reps in this ballgame. That’s just part of it. That’s what we had to do.”

In addition to Cyrus and Michael’s injuries, starting defensive end Jonathan Mathis’ season ended because of a knee injury he incurred during A&M’s game against Oklahoma State. Defensive backs Steven Campbell and Coryell Judie have missed multiple games because of leg injuries.

Both teams have been limping through this season, but how both rally on Thursday will be pivotal in determining the winner of the last Texas and Texas A&M rivalry game.

Published on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 as: Injuries to Texas A&M running backs plaguing team
 

Ryan Tannehill has been saying he is Texas A&M’s best option at quarterback even when he was third on the depth chart behind Jerrod Johnson and Stephen McGee. Now he’s got a chance to prove that over the course of a full season.

Tannehill took over the starting role mid-season last year after Jerrod Johnson failed to live up to expectations. Johnson threw 14 touchdown passes and nine interceptions in six games, and then Tannehill finished the season with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions as the Aggies cruised to a 5-1 record with him at the helm. Now he’s got the starting gig from the get-go.

“One thing Ryan brings to the table, always has, is confidence,” said Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman during Monday’s Big 12 Media Days. “Ryan thought he was the best one. He’s never wavered in his ability to do the job.”

Along with his confidence, the Big Spring native brings another important tool to the Aggie offense — his quarterback IQ. Sherman believes it will pay off big this season.

“What he brings to the table, besides confidence, is a tremendous intellect and athletic ability,” Sherman said. “I think he gets rid of the ball quick, makes quick decisions.”

Though he makes quick decisions, Sherman said that Tannehill still needs to learn to make those quick choices under duress. His only loss came last season against LSU in the Cotton Bowl, where he faced constant pressure. His three interceptions were a big reason the Aggies weren’t able to keep it close, losing 41-24.

But that’s all behind the senior quarterback. Tannehill isn’t shy when it comes to exuding the swagger of a top quarterback in the Big 12.

“I have a lot of respect for the other quarterbacks in this league like Brandon Weeden, Landry Jones and Robert Griffin. I could keep going,” he said. “But at the same time, I want to be better than all of them. It’s just one of those things where the drive within me wants to not only make our team better than those guys’ teams, but to make Texas A&M the best in the country.”

Tannehill is one of the lucky few Big 12 quarterbacks with the luxury of returning with almost his entire receiving corps. The receivers that aren’t returning only accounted for nine receptions last year.

With the pieces around his offense set, Tannehill has the opportunity he’s always wanted — a chance to translate his confidence into wins.

“I finally get to be in that position to fill that leadership role here at A&M,” Tannehill said. “And to be that guy that sets up seven-on-sevens and sets up team functions and be the guy that everyone looks to is something I’ve wanted for a very long time.”

Mack Brown addresses the media on the first day of the 2011 Big 12 Media Days.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

As the coaches from five Big 12 schools answered questions on day one of Big 12 Media Days, there was one topic that none could avoid — the Longhorn Network. The unprecedented $300 million deal has fans and the media from College Station to Columbia up in arms. But what do the coaches think about the deal?

Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman was the first to encounter the inevitable questions. Recent stirrings about the airing of high school games on the Longhorn Network have some schools worried about an unfair advantage, but Sherman didn’t seem too bothered by it all.

“I’ve got enough on my own plate,” Sherman said. “I’m focused on my job, and winning that first ball game.”

Baylor head coach Art Briles faced the media next and, lo and behold, he too was asked if he thought the network would bring an unfair advantage to Austin.

“Not a bit,” Briles said. “They’re pretty hard to recruit against anyway.”

Briles went on to praise Texas head coach Mack Brown.

“Mack has been great, and that’s a fact,” he said. “In the recruiting world, facts are all that matter.”

Others, like Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, chose to sidestep the ethical question regarding the showing of high school games on a college sports network.

“I’ve got faith in our athletic director Mike Holder and [Big 12 Commissioner] Dan Beebe to sort things out,” Gundy said.

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel had a decidedly firm stance on the Longhorn Network, citing a “lack of common sense” for the network to even attempt to show high school games on air.

“Showing high school games, it’s absurd,” he said.

Last but not least, Mack Brown shared his thoughts on the network’s arrival. Brown mentioned that stations like ESPN currently air high school games, even including several teams from the state of Texas. While noting that players that play on a major channel like ESPN get noticed by bigger schools, Brown remained confident that airing high school games would have no ill effects in terms of ease of recruiting or otherwise.

“The communities in Texas and their athletes that would otherwise not get noticed or receive any recognition will become accessible through this new network,” Brown said.

He still acknowledged the outrage.

“If I didn’t have it, I’d be mad,” he said.