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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Spring cleaning

The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer and apartments are in dire need of cleaning. Spring is upon us, and for Texas A&M’s football Head Coach Mike Sherman, that means it’s time for some seasonal cleaning.
Sherman said just because the weather is nice doesn’t mean the team will be taking it easy.
“Spring is going to really be a gut check,” he said. “That’s the theme of what needs to get done. We need to go through this baptism, so to speak, and really challenge [the team] physically and mentally. It’s like going to Junction, Texas all over again.”
Some may remember that Paul “Bear” Bryant’s famed trip to Junction was a prelude for a one-win season, but it’s worth bearing in mind that within three years, that one-win team transformed into a conference title winner.
“[A&M] had seven teams last year that won Big 12 championships in some fashion, and football needs to rejoin that elite group,” Sherman said. “I think A&M is very close. It’s a sleeping giant. It’s a chance to start taking big steps, and it starts with recruiting. I really feel something special can be done here, and that’s why I took this job.”
Before accepting the job at A&M, Sherman was the offensive coordinator for NFL’s Houston Texans. The offense set records for the six-year-old program and helped lead the Texans to their first winning season in team history. And though Sherman said his agent told him at the time that there would be another head coaching job for him in the NFL if he waited a few years, he jumped at the opportunity to coach the Aggies when it was offered to him.
“[I accepted in] as much time as it takes to say yes,” Sherman said. “I didn’t have to think about this. This is where I want to be, where I want to live my life. I raised my kids here when they were young. This is kind-of going full circle. I’ve been there, done that at other places and I want to be able to do something special here at College Station with Texas A&M.”
Winning with A&M is something Sherman is familiar with. As an offensive line coach under R.C. Slocum from 1989 to 1993, Sherman helped Slocum turn the Aggies into a team that won three straight Southwest Conference titles. Sherman left the Aggies to coach the offensive line at UCLA, but it was Slocum who welcomed him back after a year away, willing to give Sherman his old job back.
“If it weren’t for R.C. Slocum, I wouldn’t be here today,” Sherman said. “He hired me, and then after I was crazy enough to go to UCLA for a year, he let me come back with my tail tucked between my legs.”
The early 1990s were a time of glory for Aggie football, when many traditions were born, and Sherman is making sure to keep close to the people who birthed those traditions and keep the program strong.
“[Former players] Ty Warren and Seth McKinney have lockers [in the Bright Football Complex]. It’s the offseason, so they can come and work with players,” Sherman said. “R.C. has a locker downstairs as well, in the coaches’ locker room. I want to embrace the great things about our past, which are certainly numerous, and hopefully it can help propel us to a brighter future.”
The tradition many Aggies are most anxious to see return to the field is the vaunted Wrecking Crew defense of the past, when injured opposing quarterbacks were a common sight on Kyle Field’s grass.
“[To bring back the Wrecking Crew], the players really have to do that in many ways, and so do the coaches to an extent,” Sherman said. “That’s not something we are going to embrace until the fans acknowledge we are like the Wrecking Crew. I think our students and former students will say, ‘You know, this defense is starting to play like the Wrecking Crew.’ When they acknowledge that, then maybe we will grab a hold of it at that point, but until then, we have a lot of work to do to even get close to the tradition that the Wrecking Crew represents. My goal is at some point to refer to our defense as the Wrecking Crew, more so outside [of A&M] than even inside.”
To help him bring the Wrecking Crew back to A&M, Sherman hired former Alabama defensive coordinator Joe Kines to lead the defense after his first choice, Reggie Herring, left for an opportunity to coach linebackers for the Dallas Cowboys.
“I was very lucky I was able to get someone like Joe Kines,” Sherman said. “Joe’s been the consummate professional collegiate football coach. He has a better pedigree and more experience than just about anyone I’ve ever hired. He’s been in the big games and made the big calls, and that was important to me.
“This isn’t the type of job where you get someone who hasn’t necessarily cut their teeth before. This is a job where there’s that pressure on the position. I wanted someone I could trust.”
Sherman said he feels strongly about all the coaches he hired and was quick to point out the ample NFL experience on the staff. It is with this hand-picked staff that Sherman plans to turn A&M into a contender, and he wasn’t shy explaining what he thinks is important to breed that success.
“I probably have a little different approach philosophically than most people,” Sherman said. “My goal is to make sure that [our] locker room is a locker room that has tremendous chemistry; that the players are loyal to each other, to the coaches and to the school; that they have respect and care for one another; and that they have tremendous integrity. If we can have that in the locker room, that will carry over to the field. We have those elements in our locker room, we will win football games.
“I want to put a football team on the field every week that the students and former students can be very, very proud of. I want to please the fan base, which is the student body and the former students, because it’s fun. When we win, we are all going to enjoy this. I look at the football team – I’ll never say it’s my football team, it’s the University’s. I want them to enjoy the success of this football team, which I consider to be theirs.”
Sherman said he even has a favorite tradition: “Kissing the girl after a touchdown. I’m very happy that I’ll have guys scoring when I’m scoring.”
Sherman said he hopes the fans will be scoring a lot next year, but he realizes there is a lot of work to be done between now and then. With spring practice underway, the first big date Sherman has circled on his calendar is the annual Maroon and White game April 19.
“That spring game is huge. I want to challenge students to come to the game. I want our players to feel the student body. I want the recruits to feel that as well. [If our students] want to help us be a better football team, be there that Saturday for the football game with the recruits there. [The student body is] a group of people that hang onto the past. They represent the present and they are going to be the future. I want them to feel the football team represents them – we are part of them.”

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