...until first kickoff of the 2008 Fightin' Texas Aggie Football season! Yes, well maybe I'm a bit more excited than most but I mean, c'mon. Fran is gone, and in turn, the Little Debbie snack inventory in the Bryan/College Station area has returned! More importantly, gone are the days of the "smoke draw" five plays in a row. Gone is our favorite insurance salesman/ defensive coordinator employing bend but dont break defenses. In comes a new wave of hope with a familiar twist. That's right, one of ol' R.C's men is back and determined to take A&M back to the glory days of the late 80's and early 90's. That is right Ags, we're gonna party like it's 1989!
Coach Mike Sherman knows A&M. He can tell you about Silver Taps, Midnight Yell, and all about the 12th Man. It wouldn't shock me if I were a redass 2012 fish this year to see Coach out shining Sully. The guy embraces A&M, he loves what A&M is all about, and best of all, you believe him when he does so. And he should. Sherman coached A&M's stellar offensive lines from 1989-93 and again from 95-96. In fact, Sherman was appointed in 1996 to replace Steve Emsinger as the A&M offensive coordinator. Unfortunately for the Ags, Mike Holmgrem and the Green Bay Packers came calling that same year, and Sherman headed up north to coach for Holmgrem and his recent Super Bowl Champs. Coach Sherman, upon departing A&M, said, "There is absolutely no other college job I would have left Texas A&M for and only one professional job that I've ever had any interest in and that being the Green Bay Packers. I've enjoyed the small-town atmosphere of College Station for my family, and Green Bay offers that same atmosphere. If the truth be told, there is not a whole lot of difference between an `Aggie' and a `Cheesehead." The move ended up being a coup for Sherman, as he shot up through the ranks of NFL assistants to become on of the hottest names in the league. After following Holmgrem to Seattle to take over as offensive coordinator in 1999, teams soon began looking at the long time offensive line coach to run their team. After a subpar 8-8 season back in Green Bay, Packers GM Ron Wolf fired Ray Rhodes and replaced him with Sherman. Sherman induced many a happy Cheesehead moments from 2000-2004, compiling a record of 53-29 for a .663 winning percentage. This was better than every coach in Green Bay history, save one. Some guy named Lombardi, I believe?
Following a tough 2005 season, Sherman moved on from Green Bay and came back to Texas to coach for Aggie great Gary Kubiak and the Houston Texans as Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coach. After a 6-10 season in 2006 in which the Texan offense ranked 28th out of 32, Kubiak promoted Sherman to offensive coordinator to try and help his beleagured offense. In 2007, the Texan offense showed great improvement, finshing 14th in the league in total offense as well as posting a franchise best 8-8 record.
Following Little Debb... err Fran's dissappointing 2007 season, the Aggies were looking for someone to reinvigorate a fallen program. An embarrassing 35-7 thrashing by Texas Tech, coupled with news of a secret(and potentially illegal per NCAA rules) newsletter distributed by Fran crony Mike McKenzie, names began swirling of potential replacements. Big time names such as Steve Spurrier and Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville began coming up for the position. Following Fran's dismissal immediately after A&M's 38-30 defeat of Texas, Bill Byrne began a comprehensive search for the next man to lead the Aggies. Byrne's search did not last long. In fact, he never made it past Houston. Coach Sherman was the first interview, and Byrne came away so impressed, that Sherman was introduced as the new Texas A&M head coach just a few days later.
"It's like coming back home," Sherman said. "I told my wife, you can unpack the
boxes on this move. I've moved about 10 times in my career. You can put up the
pictures and throw the boxes away, because we're going to be here awhile."
Sherman's performance thus far as Aggie Head Coach would certainly indicate he is in it for the long haul. He has shown a great work ethic, and seems to have really streamlined the difficult transition from the NFL back to the ever changing landscape of college football. Sherman brought in a very experienced coaching staff to help him lead A&M back to prominence. This staff ranges from long-time NFL assistants Nolan Cromwell and Tom Rossley, to long-time college defensive coordinator Joe Kines, who I am personally predicting will become a quick favorite among Aggies.(If you haven't had the chance, YouTube "Joe Kines inside draw") This staff has already shown their worth, as A&M already sits at 25 commitments for the 2009 recruiting class. Obviously however, a whole lot more can be said once September rolls around and the stuff that REALLY matters begins, but count this Ag as one who is truly excited about what this staff will be able to do with the talent already on campus.
After all is said and done, I am really impressed with what Coach Mike Sherman has brought to A&M already. Listening to him speak, you feel that the man is very authentic and passionate about the direction he wants to lead this team. He has an ominous challenge ahead of him if he hopes to bring A&M back to national prominence. Recent national champs Oklahoma, texas, and Louisiana State all reside within a stone's throw of College Station. Coupled with a rising program in Texas Tech, Sherman has his work cut out for him. That said, A&M is a unique situation. In Aggieland, you have top-flight facilities, money, and one of the most dedicated fanbases in the nation all at a flagship university smack dab in the middle of one of the largest recruiting hot-beds in the nation. A coach who can come in and maximize returns on these assets, while still simply "getting" a place as unique as A&M could truly make a name for himself among the college football elite. Whether or not Coach Mike Sherman can do that remains to be said. Based on the early returns however, count me in on A&M making a name for themselves again sooner rather than later.
I hope everyone enjoyed this. Stay posted, as I will be breaking down alot of the new things you will be seeing this year, including the new offensive and defensive sets A&M will be lining up in. I'll also be breaking down this coming season, including where I see Texas A&M finishing in the Big 12 South in 2008. So start exercising those vocal cords Ags, football season is right around the corner!