Here he is, Aggies.
Mike Sherman is hired, and all of your wildest dreams are coming true.
Because of my NFL affiliation, I am asked several times a day by unconvinced Aggies if this was a good hire by A&M. My quick response is that his performance in Green Bay has very little to do with his ability to turn things around in College Station. Sure, the object of the game is still to score more than your opponent, but in the NFL there is no recruiting. He was the General Manager of the Packers, and his drafting was generally lousy, but now he is going to have to out-recruit Stoopes and Brown.
His biggest downfall in Green Bay was his refusal to get tough with Brett Favre. Favre’s erratic play was at its all time worst with Sherman, and it seemed obvious that no matter how many times Brett threw the ball into triple coverage, Sherman was not going to confront him. Mike McCarthy has redone Brett’s on field decision making, so Sherman looks even worse for the way things developed during his tenure. But, in fairness to Sherman, perhaps Favre only listened to McCarthy because of the rock bottom 2005 that occurred with Sherman.
So, if my two critiques of Mike Sherman are: 1) He couldn’t draft to save his life and 2) he couldn’t coach Brett Favre, then Aggies should realize that neither of those apply in college football, and therefore he should be a reasonable hire today. His in game strategy generally seemed too conservative, and of course, he is the only coach in Packers history to lose a playoff game at Lambeau Field (twice) and frankly his legacy in Green Bay is not going to make anyone forget Lambeau, Lombardi, or Holmgren.
Overall, I was hoping for Tuberville or Spurrier. But, Sherman really wants to be the coach of the Aggies. This isn’t a trampoline to another job. He wants to make the Aggies a power. That should really count for something. I am interested in what this will do to the offensive philosophies of this all.
Time to turn the page in Aggieland. Now the frustrating exercise in college football in waiting several years to see how this works. Goodbye, Fran. I doubt you will be missed.
Press Conference is today …
Assuming there are no unforeseen snags, Mike Sherman is expected to be named the next head football coach at Texas A&M University, multiple sources told The Dallas Morning News on Sunday.
The school has called an 11 a.m. news conference today at the Bright Football Complex, A&M spokesman Alan Cannon said.
Sherman, 52, served as A&M's offensive line coach in the 1990s. He's currently the offensive coordinator for the NFL's Houston Texans. He declined to comment about the A&M opening after the Texans lost to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in Cleveland.
Texans spokesman Tony Wyllie said he could not comment on Sherman's status.
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, believed to be one of the leading contenders for the A&M position, fell out of the running, a high-ranking university source said.
Tuberville has a $6 million buyout clause in his Auburn contract. A&M officials were not willing to pay that amount "just to talk to him," the university source said. A&M would then have to pay even more to lure Tuberville to College Station.
Tuberville told Auburn reporters Sunday that he will meet with the school's athletic
director Jay Jacobs this week. Those talks could lead to a contract extension.
Dennis Franchione, who was 32-28 in five seasons at A&M, resigned Friday after the regular-season finale against Texas. At that time, A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said the school would conduct a "nationwide" search for Franchione's replacement.
That nationwide search simply took Byrne south on Highway 6 toward Houston.
Sherman was the school's offensive line coach from 1989 to '93. He left A&M for a one-year stint with UCLA then came back to coach the Aggies' linemen in 1995 and '96.
In 1997, Sherman left the college coaching ranks for the NFL when he became the tight ends coach for the Green Bay Packers. He became the team's head coach before the 2000 season.
Sherman led the Packers to five consecutive winning seasons from 2000 to 2004. The franchise won NFC North division titles in 2002, '03 and '04.
Injuries crippled the Packers in 2005. The team finished 4-12 and Sherman was fired shortly after the season. He landed with the Texans as the assistant head coach in 2006, and he became the offensive coordinator this season.
Honorary Aggie to be hired …
For the second consecutive season, the Texans' offensive coordinator could get a college head coaching job.
Last year, Troy Calhoun was hired by Air Force, his alma mater.
Now, Mike Sherman is a leading candidate to become the next head coach at Texas A&M.
Sherman, who also is Gary Kubiak's assistant head coach, might not have graduated from A&M, but after coaching two times under R.C. Slocum, he qualifies as an honorary Aggie.
From 1989-1993, Sherman coached the offensive line at A&M. After spending a year at UCLA, Sherman returned to College Station and coached the offensive line again in 1995 and 1996 before Green Bay coach Mike Holmgren hired him to coach Packers tight ends.
Sherman would be a terrific hire for the Aggies. If you don't believe it, ask Kubiak, Holmgren, Brett Favre and former Packers general manager Ron Wolf, all of whom give Sherman their highest endorsement.
Many coaches love A&M because the Aggies have deep pockets and will pay just about anything to find a coach who claims he can make his teams play every week like A&M played Friday, but Sherman wouldn't be doing it for the money.
Sherman loves the Aggies. Back when he was coaching the Packers to the playoffs in four of his six seasons, he told anyone who asked how much he cherished his experience in College Station.
When Sherman was Packers coach, I went to his office to interview him about receiver Donald Driver, a Houston native. After we were introduced, I brought up his two tours in College Station, and he went on and on about how much he loved A&M. I thought at the time he sounded just like an Aggie. And he still does.
Everyone who knows Sherman knows how much he would love to be the next Aggies head coach. He doesn't bleed maroon like Kubiak, but he could.
He knows the tradition and would embrace it. He understands the importance of knowing who's who in the Aggies' pew.
Sherman wouldn't have a Web site or a private newsletter for an elite few. He could tell recruits what it takes to play in the NFL because he has firsthand knowledge.
The Aggies have Sherman in their sights. They should go ahead and pull the trigger. They won't regret it.
Another interesting option for JerryWorld …
Texas A&M and Arkansas officials are close to finalizing a non-conference football series at the new Cowboys stadium in Arlington starting in 2009, a source close to the negotiations told The Dallas Morning News.
The schools are close to signing a six- to eight-year deal that would bring a
potential blockbuster matchup to the area that could rival the annual Texas-Oklahoma game at Fair Park.
Arkansas officials are expected to fly to the area this week for one final look at the stadium and the contract, the source said.
A&M spokesman Alan Cannon said he could not confirm a contract with Arkansas. He did
say the school was considering a non-conference game at the new Cowboys stadium. Arkansas and Cowboys officials could not be reached.
A&M athletic director Bill Byrne has made no secret about his desire to play a high-profile game in North Texas. For months, it was thought A&M would play Texas Tech. An Arkansas game would effectively take those plans off the table.
Byrne was asked about the possibility of bringing a Big 12 game to the Dallas area during an Internet chat with fans hosted by The News on Aug. 29.
"It's more likely for us to look at a non-conference game," Byrne said then. "We haven't established an opponent yet, but we're very interested in being in the Metroplex starting in 2009."
Meanwhile, the Stars are ready for the “let the truth be told” road trip. This is where we find out if they have the ability to score. Everyone gets goals at home, but when the Stars have gone on the road, 1 od 2 things has been happening: 1) they get smoked or 2) somehow they win, but nobody is quite sure how they did it.
Such was the case yesterday in New York as the Starts were out shot by a mile, and yet won the game …Very much like their visit to San Jose on the last trip…
Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett said he could summarize Sunday's 3-2 win over the New York Rangers pretty easily.
"The coaches just asked me what I'm going to say to the media," Tippett said after netminder Mike Smith had 39 saves. "I told them I was going to say, 'The goalie was really blanking good.' "
The Stars stole a game Sunday. Smith shocked a hard-driving Rangers team by coming up with pad saves, glove saves, blocker saves and even the occasional flopping-on-the-puck save. Meanwhile, the Stars went 2-for-3 on the power play and got opportunistic goals from Jussi Jokinen, Loui Eriksson and Brenden Morrow as they solved the top goalie in the NHL right now – Henrik Lundqvist – on three of 18 shots.
"We're going to have to battle here. There are people who are going to have to raise their level, and that's the way it's going to be," Tippett said. "We're looking for people to make a couple of plays that make a difference, and they did that. I think we had two scoring opportunities in the first two periods, and we were 2-for-2."
The victory allows the Stars to keep momentum going as they are 5-0-1 since naming Les Jackson and Brett Hull co-general managers. The win pushes Dallas to 12-7-4 and keeps the Stars in first place in the Pacific Division.
"We found a way to win," said Smith, who has allowed four goals in four games since returning from having wisdom teeth removed. "Sometimes it's not pretty, but you get it done and move on. That's our job, Marty's and my job, to bail our guys out when maybe they're not feeling that great or they're not having a great period or two."
Asked if he was surprised to have a chance to win despite a 41-18 shot differential, Morrow said: "It sure didn't feel like that, but when you get the chance, you need to take advantage of it. Whatever it takes, you need to stay on top of it. It could be anything, a power play, a batted puck. You just have to know it can happen at anytime."
The Stars' few scoring chances seemed to shoot a dagger through the Rangers and Lundqvist, who came into the game with a 1.75 GAA and a .934 save percentage. Jokinen's goal was particularly deflating as it came in the final minute of a first period the Rangers dominated, and also came at the end of a shift in which New York appeared ready to get a great scoring opportunity. Stephane Robidas made a nice poke check of Scott Gomez, and the puck squirted to Jokinen, who had a clean breakaway. He went to his forehand and beat Lundqvist with 53 seconds remaining in the period.
Eriksson also scored on a breakaway after he was set up by Sergei Zubov. And finally, Morrow scored after Mike Ribeiro split two defenders and sent him a cross-ice pass.
Once the Stars had their 3-2 lead at the 4:04 mark of the third period, they became more aggressive and worked hard to keep the Rangers' scoring chances to a minimum.
"As the game went on, I thought the third period was our best by far," Tippett said.
Still, the Stars know this isn't a formula for consistent winning. They play at the Islanders tonight, then at New Jersey on Wednesday.
This Just in: Eli Might not be Peyton ….
First quarter, tied 7-7, third-and-7 from the Giants' 13. Manning dropped back to pass and saw the Vikings blitzing. Or so he thought. He saw one linebacker rush, then expected another to do the same, and adjusted accordingly by making what's called a "hot read." One problem: Jeremy Shockey read it another way and kept running.
When Manning released the ball, he expected Shockey to adjust to the hot read by cutting his route short. When he didn't, safety Darren Sharper stepped in front, caught the ball and returned it for a 20-yard touchdown.
It was the beginning of a meltdown previously unseen in Manning's four-year career. In fact, it was previously unseen in Giants history. This was the first time a Giant had thrown three interceptions returned for touchdowns in the same game.
Not Dave Brown. Not Scott Brunner. Not Joe Pisarcik. Even Jerry Golsteyn never threw this many.
"It was a good disguise," Manning said. "I threw it hot and the guy was in the right spot."
With a crowd that included Manning's more famous and more accomplished older brother Peyton looking on, Eli gave Giants fans four more reasons to wonder whether he will ever be the quarterback to lead this team to a championship.
Reason No. 1: Sharper's return with 3:15 to play in the first quarter. No. 2: Dwight Smith's 93-yard interception return for a touchdown with 13:41 left in the fourth. Reason No. 3: Chad Greenway's 37-yard return for a touchdown 42 seconds after that. No. 4: Another interception by Smith that was returned to the 8 and set up a fourth touchdown.
OK, in all fairness, reason No. 2 wasn't all Manning's fault; the ball was tipped by linebacker Ben Leber before Smith picked it off and ran down the right sideline.
But let's not quibble over the details; by any measure, this was one brutal afternoon for the former No. 1 overall pick for whom the Giants paid a king's ransom.
The only good news out of all this: The Giants are 7-4 and lead the NFC wild-card race. But by this time next week, even that rationalization might ring hollow if Manning can't get up off the canvas and beat the Bears in Chicago.
"When you throw four interceptions, it's never good," Manning said. "They took advantage of it and scored on three of them. Every one has its own story ... We didn't catch any breaks and we didn't perform well, and they took advantage of it."
Manning still is not even four years into his career, so it's still premature to make any sweeping judgments about his legacy. Consider: It took Phil Simms five years of injuries and inconsistency before he established himself as a legitimate .quarterback.
But it's games like this that make you wonder just how good Manning will be. And whether the Giants can rely on him to avoid the kind of .second-half collapse that nearly got Tom Coughlin fired after last season and that now threatens his tenure once again.
Coughlin cannot survive if Manning cannot produce the kind of results the Giants envisioned when they poured all that cash and all those draft picks into his selection. He shows promise, such as the four-touchdown performance in the opener against Dallas. But then he gives it all back with a game like yesterday's.
AFC vs. NFC ….
Yes, it has been that long, 1995 to be exact, since the NFC won the interconference series. The NFC topped the AFC in 33 of 60 matchups that season, with the Dallas Cowboys punctuating the senior conference's dominance by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17, in Super Bowl XXX.
Since then, the NFC's less-than-scintillating performance against the AFC should pretty much be XXX-out.
In the past 11 seasons, the AFC has registered a 370-300-2 record in the AFC-NFC matchups, and has won the competition every year, except in 2000 and 2001, when the NFC held its own at 30-30 in each of those seasons. The AFC also has claimed eight of 11 Super Bowl championships, including the past four titles, and six of the past seven.
"It's obscene, ridiculous, really, that the AFC has owned the series for so many years," said Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, who has been around for the entire reign of terror by the junior conference. "It just shouldn't be that way."
And maybe, at long last, it won't be that way this season -- thanks in part to Favre and the Packers, who own a 3-0 mark for 2007 against AFC foes with one interconference game left, a home contest against the Oakland Raiders on Dec. 9.
Through the Thanksgiving Day games, the NFC surprisingly leads the interconference series this season by a 24-22 count. And if those two dozen victories don't seem like all that much, well, consider this: With 18 interconference games still to play, the 24 wins are as many as the NFC managed in 2006, when the AFC posted a 40-24 record. And they are nearly as much as the NFC's average of 24.6 wins the past three seasons.
So 24 wins for the NFC at this point of the season is progress of a sort.
That the NFC has been so thoroughly manhandled for more than a decade now, with the AFC's superiority reflected in a .557 winning mark, is both incomprehensible and inexplicable. What it hasn't been is cyclical, because, in the NFL, such pendulum swings clearly aren't supposed to last so long.
Free Agency doesn’t offer pitching this winter? Perhaps you need to trade for Bedard or Kazmir? …
It's more of the same in Baltimore and Tampa Bay, where Bedard and Kazmir could form the foundations of winning staffs -- or merely be very good pitchers on competitive teams if the surrounding casts can't be upgraded.
In the case of the Rays, there's economics to worry about. Kazmir will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, and although he won't be eligible for free agency until after 2010, he will become increasingly expensive the next three seasons.
For a team with a projected payroll of about $35 million next year, that's no small factor.
Meanwhile, the Orioles are in full rebuilding mode and would love to move veterans Miguel Tejada and Melvin Mora to speed up the process. They might not be actively looking to deal Bedard, but with 10 consecutive losing seasons and a new management team in place, they have to examine everything -- Bedard included.
As valuable as young frontline starters are, some believe they are being made available because of baseball's over-infatuation with prospects.
"I've never seen a time in this game when kids in Baseball America are more valuable than guys who win at the big league level," one baseball executive complained. "It's great to have good prospects, but have we forgotten it's whether you win that is most important? When you talk to other teams about young pitching, it's like you're talking about their child.
The Smug Matt Serra is out for UFC 79 …Very disappointing, as I was looking forward to Matt Hughes wiping the octagon with him…
Serra out, St. Pierre in for UFC 79
Who says news slows down during the holidays?
It certainly hasn't this Thanksgiving weekend for UFC. The promotion informed fans on UFC.com on Friday that Matt Serra had injured his back last week and would not be able to defend his welterweight title against Matt Hughes at UFC 79.
Just when I thought the mega-card had taken a mega-hit, UFC announced yesterday on
its Web site that Georges St. Pierre will step in to fight Hughes for the interim title at UFC 79. The winner of that fight faces Serra sometime next year for the undisputed title.
While I'm not sure exactly what the interim title truly signifies, I do know that this will be a great fight. I was looking forward to Serra-Hughes, but St. Pierre-Hughes is pretty special, too. The fight pits the two previous champs in the weight class and represents the rubber match in their trilogy. With five weeks still remaining before the bout, the main question is: Will this be enough time for St. Pierre to train and get ready for the fight?
At the very least St. Pierre has the benefit of having fought Hughes twice before and Hughes himself will also have to rethink his game plan, since St. Pierre is a very different fighter from Serra.
If St. Pierre wins -- which sets up St. Pierre-Serra II -- I hope Serra and Hughes get an opportunity to fight each other sometime in 2008. The animosity that has been building up between the two deserves a decisive resolution inside the Octagon.
Along with the announced dream match between Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva as well as the introduction of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou to UFC fans (in a bout against Lyoto Machida), the St. Pierre-Hughes match maintains the mega-status of the card. After a couple of harrowing days, fans can exhale, knowing the integrity of this card has not been affected by the recent developments.
CrANK DAT COWBOYS
Mike Sherman – Commercial Spokesman