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November 27, 2007

The Sherman hiring

sherman%20picture.jpgWell, Texas A&M Athletic Director Bill Byrne's "nationwide search" for a new head coach to replace Dennis Franchione took a couple of days and extended all of about 100 miles southeast of College Station as A&M hired Houston Texans assistant head coach Mike Sherman as its new head coach yesterday. The deal is for seven years at $1.8 million per year. Ryan over at TAMaBINPO has a nice overview of Sherman's coaching career.

Although some in the Aggie nation were disappointed that A&M didn't hire a "big-name" coach de jour, my sense is that hiring Sherman is a reasonably good move. A&M is currently in the latter stages of a somewhat divisive search for a new president, so the A&M Board of Regents doesn't need more faculty flak from another flank. Moreover, A&M overpaid badly to hire Franchione, so the buyout of Coach Fran's contract is going to be expensive, even by A&M standards. Under these circumstances, eschewing a high-priced, big-name coach is certainly understandable.

Within the coaching profession, Sherman has an excellent reputation as a hand's-on coach, which frankly Franchione did not have when A&M hired him. The only negative comment that I've heard about Sherman is that he was not a particularly good evaluator of talent as Green Bay's general manager from 2001-04. That trait has certainly reared its head during his stint with the Texans -- Sherman was among those who blessed the questionable decision to pick up an expensive option to keep former Texans QB David Carr around for another year and he lobbied hard for the Texans to overpay old and injured RB Ahman Green. Those two decisions are costing the Texans big-time in terms of salary cap space.

Nevertheless, Sherman will have plenty of assistance in picking talent for A&M's football program and he inherits one of the richest bases for recruiting good football players in the U.S. The initial problem that Sherman faces in the recruiting wars is that three Big 12 South programs -- Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech -- have been clearly superior to the Aggies' program for a prolonged period now, although the reasons for each program's superiority are different. UT and OU have had better overall talent than A&M, while Tech has simply outcoached A&M while deploying comparable talent.

At this point, the OU and Texas programs are two of the select few big-time college football programs that are recruiting almost entirely high school prospects who project to have the potential to develop into players capable of playing in the National Football League. A&M does not yet have that luxury in recruiting players into its program, so Sherman will be dealing with a talent deficit to programs like OU and UT for at least the first 2-3 years of his tenure at A&M. With the exception of A&M's last two victories over UT, Franchione's A&M teams did not generally compete well against teams that had superior talent. How Sherman's teams deal with that talent deficit during his initial A&M seasons will largely determine whether Sherman succeeds or fails in Aggieland.

Posted by Tom at November 27, 2007 12:10 AM |

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