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It's time for Sherman to go
Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman spent most of the second half Thursday night pacing back-and-forth on the sideline.
As he did, the third-year Aggies coach stared at an oversized, laminated play card as if he were looking for answers to his team’s second-half meltdown. The Aggies lost 38-35 to sloppy Oklahoma State on a final-play, 40-yard field goal.
If the former Green Bay Packers coach wants an answer, here's one: He’s just not the right coach for Texas A&M.
Granted, Thursday night was the first loss this season for Texas A&M (3-1), but this is not a knee-jerk reaction to an unacceptable defeat. After all, the likeable Sherman is just 13-16 in his two-plus seasons with the Aggies.
But this loss was perhaps as perplexing as any that Sherman has had at A&M. His team led 21-7 at halftime, allowed 28 consecutive points to open the second half, then rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game. But fifth-year senior quarterback Jerrod Johnson then threw the last of his four interceptions, setting up Oklahoma State’s game-winning field goal.
Oh, and Texas A&M actually outgained Oklahoma State (4-0) in total yards, 535 to 354, and ran 106 plays compared to 68 by the Cowboys.
“I was disappointed,” Sherman said. “I thought we could have played better.”
Sherman is now 0-3 against Oklahoma State, a team that’s never even been to a BCS game, and the losing streak is the first time the Aggies have ever lost three straight games to the Cowboys. That’s right, he’s yet to beat the second-rate team in this state. He’s 0-2 against Oklahoma.
Always little brother to Texas, Texas A&M has stayed that way under Sherman. He’s also 0-2 against the Longhorns.
Yet when reminded that this is his third season at Texas A&M and asked what needs to change for the Aggies to win games like Thursday night’s, Sherman was apparently confused.
“I don’t understand the question,” he said.
When asked again, Sherman tersely replied, “I think it’s pretty evident we can’t turn the ball over.”
Really? Would never have guessed that Texas A&M’s five turnovers posed a problem. But it’s always been something with Sherman.
His first season when Texas A&M was 4-8, he didn’t have the talent. Last season when the Aggies went 6-7 and were routed by Georgia in the Independence Bowl, his team was young. But there’s no excuse this season because he has at least half a dozen future NFL players.
That may no longer include Johnson, the Big 12’s preseason offensive player of the year, who has now committed 10 turnovers, eight of which have been interceptions, in his last two games.
“We have every weapon we need to be successful,” Texas A&M linebacker Michael Hodges said. “There’s no limit to what we could do and unfortunately this one got away from us, but it wasn’t because of the talent we have. Our talent is as good as it needs to be. We just gotta put all the pieces together.”
And it’s Sherman who's supposed to do that. He’s doing it by telling his players on the bus at their hotel before Thursday’s game that he was “proud of them.”
Great, apparently Texas A&M is now more into moral victories than those on the field. That’s got to be special for a sleeping-giant program once led by Bear Bryant, with a national championship and 19 conference titles.
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“They’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do,” Sherman said. “They’ve worked extremely hard going all the way back to January. That doesn’t change because we lost a football game.”
That sounds like a coach who can’t get any more out of his team. It doesn’t get any easier next Saturday for Texas A&M with a neutral-site game against smarting No. 15 Arkansas (3-1) at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The Aggies also play against Missouri, Texas Tech, No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 6 Nebraska and at No. 21 Texas, which combined are 17-2 this season. They seem destined to always be at best a 7-5 or 8-4 team with Sherman.
It’s time for Texas A&M to awaken and take that next step toward national prominence. It should be beating Oklahoma State consistently and at least competitive enough to beat Oklahoma or Texas every couple of years.
A replacement for Sherman needs to have upside. The Aggies need to overcome their perceived redneck image and look at Houston coach Kevin Sumlin or kick the tires on Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville.
But Sherman doesn’t think he’s going anywhere. When asked if he’s still optimistic going forward the rest of the season, he nearly laughed.
“Yeah, I’ve got a great group of guys,” he said. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
Because it’s a question that’s already been answered.
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