Head Coach Jackie Sherrill
| Born: November 28, 1943 |
Birthplace: Duncan, OK
Married: former Peggy Breaux
Children: daughters, Elizabeth, Kellie and Bonnie;
sons, Justin and Braxton
College: Alabama, 1966
Email Coach Sherrill
Mississippi State head coach Jackie Sherrill has been a collegiate football trailblazer since becoming associated with the sport in the 1960s. A national championship-adorned playing career has grown into one of the most dramatic coaching stories of this era. During his head coaching tenure, he has driven three separate programs to unparalleled heights on the college grid scene. And now, as the sport enters the 21st century, Sherrill may well have reached the highest height in Starkville, Miss.
Under Sherrill's direction, MSU football has reached a new level of success, particularly during the final three years of the past century.
During that time, the Bulldogs have posted a 24-9 regular-season record, won the Southeastern Conference Western Division title, and earned back-to-back postseason bowl berths. That three-year mark is the best of any school in the SEC West and the Bulldogs were the only divisional team with a chance to earn a berth in the championship game with just two games remaining in each of those three campaigns.
Sherrill guided the Bulldogs to a 10-2 mark in 1999, the best overall record in the entire Southeastern Conference. That mark included a school-record 8-0 start, MSU's first top-10 ranking since the early 1980s and six SEC victories. When State defeated Clemson in the 1999 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, its 10 wins tied the 1940 Bulldog team for the most victories in school history.
For his work, Sherrill was named a semifinalist for National Coach of the Year honors by Football News Magazine. He was also named the GTE Region II Coach of the Year.
The '99 season honors came on the heels of school-record setting successes from one year prior, which included winning the SEC West crown and subsequent berth in the conference championship game in Atlanta. By directing MSU to that title, Sherrill had the Bulldogs playing for a league title for the first time in 57 years. State also earned its first berth in a traditional New Year's Day Bowl since the 1941 Orange after that season, playing Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
Sherrill has now directed the Bulldog program to five postseason bowl berths during his nine years, recurring prosperity unmatched in school history. In fact, Sherrill has directed MSU to nearly one-half of its total bowl appearances in just nine years, and he is the only head coach ever to take the institution to more than two bowl games. State has won 58 regular-season games since Sherrill's arrival, the most wins in a nine-year span since the tenure of legendary head coach Allyn McKeen during the 1940s. Sherrill stands second on State's all-time winningest coaches list, but has surpassed McKeen on the SEC wins chart.
Nineteen of the top 25 crowds -- including eight of the best 10 -- ever to see the Bulldogs play at MSU's Scott Field have come during Sherrill's tenure. During that span, the Bulldogs have played to crowds that fill the stadium to nearly 90 percent of its capacity.
Not only has Sherrill brought sellout throngs to Scott Field, he has made the Bulldog football program an attractive one for the national and regional television network audiences. MSU has been televised 56 times during his 104 games at the head of the program.
Sherrill has completely reversed the school's fortunes, leading State to a 58-40-2 regular-season record since coming to Starkville. In the 100 games prior to Sherrill's arrival, the Bulldogs were 38-62. He has directed MSU to a 36-34-1 SEC mark during that time frame. In the 71 league games prior to his accepting the MSU position, the Bulldogs were 18-53.
Overall, Sherrill has led the Bulldogs to a 36-17-1 home record, the best 54-game home slate at MSU since the late 1960s and early 1970s, when MSU averaged 2.5 home games per year and played only six SEC games at home over that time period. In fact, MSU will ride a 12-game home win streak into the new millennium, its last loss at Scott Field coming at the end of the 1997 season.
All that success on the field, at the turnstiles, and in achieving national rankings and postseason bowl berths, has also fueled success in the building of football facilities. Sherrill has overseen the refurbishing of State's entire football complex -- from the equipment room to the locker rooms, in the weight-training facility and in the sports medicine area, all the way to the full team meeting rooms and adjacent individualized teaching cubicles.
The facility enhancement continued with the 1996 completion of the John H. Bryan Sr. Athletic Administration Building, immediately adjacent to the Shira Athletic Complex and football practice fields. All football coaching offices are located in the Bryan building.
And the largest expansion project in MSU football history began this past summer, with work underway for a $20 million enlargement of Scott Field's east side. The Bulldogs will soon be in a remodeled facility, complete with 50 luxury skyboxes and an additional 2,000 club level seats. The stadium renovation began this past season with completely remodeled dressing rooms for both teams and a new recruiting lounge for Bulldog football prospects.
But all this success should not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed Sherrill's athletic career. What might be surprising to some is that he has added what might possibly be his greatest success story to date -- this nine-year stint in Starkville -- to what was already a legendary resume.
Sherrill has won 10 or more games during a season six times. He has now posted 16 winning seasons in his 22 years as a college head coach, gone to postseason bowl games 13 times, and been on the verge of winning national championships at two different institutions. He is ranked with the elite of the college coaching profession in wins and winning percentage. Sherrill reached the 150-win plateau when his '98 MSU team defeated Auburn.
During the past nine seasons, Sherrill has not only impressed the locals, he has turned the heads of college football observers nationwide by taking a Mississippi State program that had produced just one winning season in the previous nine years to back-to-back winning seasons, bowl berths, and into the upper echelon of the powerful Southeastern Conference. The two straight bowl games were just the second such back-to-back postseason honors in the school's football history.
Those two seasons, however, were just a foreshadowing of things to come for the Bulldog football program.
On the way to State's 10 wins a year ago, Sherrill directed the Bulldogs to their third-straight win over Auburn, a first at State since the late 1940s, and defeated bowl-bound Kentucky and Mississippi teams. In fact, the win over the Rebels was Sherrill's sixth in his nine years. With the record-tying win over Clemson in the bowl game, MSU finished the year rated 12th nationally, its highest poll ranking since 1963.
Taking the 1998 team to the brink of an SEC championship was the final achievement in an outstanding season, but there were other highlights along the way. When MSU and Tennessee were televised nationally by ABC in early December, it marked the 10th time (out of 12 games) that the Bulldogs were aired by at least regional television, smashing the TV record Sherrill's teams had set earlier in his career. State's eight victories in 1998 marked the
second time a Sherrill-coached State team had reached that win total. Prior to Sherrill's arrival, it had been 10 years since the school had accomplished an eight-win season. The 1998 contingent was undefeated at home, a first at State since 1989, when the Bulldogs only played one SEC contest at Scott Field. MSU won six SEC games in '98 for the first time ever. State beat Alabama for a third-straight season -- a first at the school since 1912-14 -- defeated Citrus Bowl-bound Arkansas and whipped Independence Bowl participant Mississippi for the fifth time in his eight years.
The '98 season's appearance in the league title game, however, was just a natural progression for Sherrill and his Bulldogs. He had his '97 MSU team on the doorstep of the SEC championship game. After nine weeks, the Bulldogs were 7-2 and in first place in the SEC West, with their destiny in their own hands. State's 7-4 mark, while disappointing given the position it was in at mid-November, showed how far the program had come. The excitement surrounding the '97 Bulldog team resulted in a then-all-time record seven television appearances. And the team did not disappoint the television audience, beating Alabama for a second-straight season and defeating league foes South Carolina and Kentucky. State also won at Auburn, the school's third victory over the Tigers since Sherrill's arrival.
In 1996, an injury-depleted Mississippi State team defeated Alabama on the field for the first time in 16 years, a game seen nationally on ESPN -- one of a then-school-record tying six televised appearances by the Bulldogs. Sherrill's troops also defeated Mississippi for the fourth time in his first six years.
Under Sherrill's direction, Mississippi State supplied the National Football League with two first-round draft choices from its 1995 team.
That comprised two-thirds of the entire SEC's first-round selections.
Mississippi State also won eight games in 1994, defeating conference rivals Tennessee and South Carolina, both of whom gained postseason bowl rewards, plus league foes Mississippi, Kentucky and Arkansas. The eight regular-season wins were, at the time, the most since 1980, and the five league triumphs were a total accomplished only two other times in school history. For the third time in four years, he led the Bulldogs to victory over in-state rival Mississippi, the first time that had occurred since 1939-42. That '94 win over the Rebels was a third-straight SEC road victory, a feat unmatched in 37 years. And for the second time in three seasons, MSU held a fourth-quarter lead on an undefeated Alabama team. For the second time in three seasons, he led the Bulldogs to a Peach Bowl berth, MSU's third postseason showing in four years.
Even following the 1994 season, Sherrill's influence continued to reap rewards for the Bulldog football program. State had six '94 seniors selected in the National Football League draft, the most by the school in 47 years, and the second-most ever.
Despite a disappointing 1993 season by Sherrill standards, Mississippi State was nonetheless just five points from an unprecedented third-straight postseason bowl bid. For the second time in three years, State defeated arch-rival Mississippi and regained the Egg Bowl trophy, given annually to the winner of the season-concluding rivalry game.
In 1992, MSU beat both Texas and Auburn for a second-straight year and whipped nationally Top-10 ranked Florida. A narrow loss to eventual national champion Alabama, in which the Bulldogs were the only team all year to hold a fourth-quarter lead on the Crimson Tide, helped earn State a January 1993 Peach Bowl berth.
Sherrill led the Bulldogs to a season-ending national ranking of 23rd by the Associated Press in 1992, the school's highest postseason showing since 1981. In so doing, he became just the seventh collegiate head coach ever to take three different schools to year-end national ratings.
In 1991, not only did he turn the dormant State football operation into a competitive force in the SEC, the Bulldogs were just 11 points shy of a 10-win season, a feat last accomplished in Starkville in 1940. From an early season nationally televised win over Texas, through a mid-season nationally televised victory at Auburn, to a season-closing triumph in the Egg Bowl against Mississippi and subsequent berth in the 1991 Liberty Bowl, Sherrill took MSU on a remarkable journey in his first season at the Bulldog helm.
But his on-field accomplishments have been just part of the success story. His reputation as a winner has brought the entire Mississippi State community -- alumni and fans, faculty and students alike -- together as never before. His presence has Bulldog followers pulling in the same direction for the first time in years. The results have been amazing. With Sherrill at the helm, MSU has established record season ticket sales and total attendance marks. He led MSU to the school's most television appearances in one year ever in 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999.
But producing the remarkable and amazing is nothing new for Sherrill. In the 1970s and '80s, he established himself as one of the country's best, with head coaching stops at Washington State, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M.
Never has the announcement of a Mississippi State University head football coach caused more excitement and anticipation than when Jackie Sherrill was presented to the MSU faithful on December 9, 1990.
A builder of excellence at two college football powers, the winner of over 150 games as a college head coach, and the holder of the 17th-best winning percentage of all active Division I head coaches, Sherrill has accomplished all that and much more during 22 seasons in intercollegiate athletics.
It is that reputation that has MSU fans beside themselves. State fans responded in '92 by purchasing every available season ticket, another first at MSU. In succeeding years, State exhausted its bowl ticket supply and helped set attendance records at both the Liberty and Peach Bowls.
His arrival as State's 30th head coach was a homecoming of sorts for Sherrill. Though a native of Duncan, Okla., Sherrill spent part of his youth in Biloxi, where he starred on the football team at Biloxi High School. He played on two Shrimp Bowl teams and, as a senior, earned high school all-America distinction and team most valuable player honors before graduating in 1962.
During the 1970s and '80s, Sherrill posted a 105-45-2 record, guiding teams at the University of Pittsburgh and Texas A&M to eight postseason bowl appearances and six top-10 finishes. His .697 winning percentage during that time ranked behind only Tom Osborne of Nebraska, Joe Paterno of Penn State, Lavell Edwards of Brigham Young, Pat Dye of Auburn and Bobby Bowden of Florida State.
His 1985-87 Texas A&M teams rolled to a 29-7-1 record, advancing to three straight Cotton Bowls as champions of the Southwest Conference. Prior to that, his final three Pittsburgh teams (1979-81) posted a 33-3 record and finished their seasons in the Fiesta, Gator and Sugar Bowls, respectively.
During his seven-year stay in College Station, Texas, the Aggies posted a 52-28-1 overall record, 36-17-1 within the SWC. After three building seasons, A&M posted 10-win campaigns in 1985 and '87, and Sherrill was named Southwest Conference Coach of the Year both years. Those teams beat Auburn (36-16) and Notre Dame (35-10) in respective Cotton Bowls. He was named national coach of the year by PLAYBOY magazine in its 1988 preseason publication.
His five-year tenure at Pitt resulted in a 50-9-1 record, five straight postseason bowl games and four top-10 national rankings. His 1980 team finished the year ranked second in the nation and his '81 Panthers beat SEC champ Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
During that span, Sherrill was honored as the Eastern Coach of the Year (1979 and '80), and was named the Walter Camp Coach of the Year (1980). In 1981, he was honored as the Pittsburgh Man of the Year and the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year in Pittsburgh.
In all, Sherrill has posted a 7-6 record in postseason bowl play. He is one of only 16 head coaches in NCAA history to take three different schools to postseason bowl competition. Sherrill joins Ken Hatfield (Air Force), Larry Smith (Missouri) and Mack Brown (Texas) as the only active head coaches with that distinction. Sherrill is one of only two Division I-A head coaches ever to lead three different schools to 10 wins or more in a season.
But far greater than the numbers is the effect he has had on his players through the years. He has coached the likes of Heisman Trophy candidate and current all-Pro quarterback Dan Marino, Lombardi Trophy and Maxwell Trophy winner Hugh Green, Outland Trophy winner Mark May and Pro Bowl regular Ray Childress. Over 100 of his pupils have advanced to careers in professional football and over 80 percent of his student-athletes have graduated during his career.
Sherrill's coaching foundation can be tied to three men of great stature in the world of college coaching.
Sherrill played for the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant at the University of Alabama, where he played seven different positions for the Crimson Tide from 1962 until 1965. He lettered three years at Alabama and played on Bryant's 1964 and '65 national championship teams.
Upon earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration at Alabama in 1966, Sherrill launched an assistant coaching career that included stints on not only Bryant's staff, but those of respected coaches Frank Broyles and Johnny Majors.
He served first on Bryant's staff as a graduate assistant coach at Alabama (1966), and held a similar position on Broyles' staff at Arkansas (1967).
His first full-time coaching appointment came a year later in 1968 at Iowa State where he served as an assistant under Majors. From 1970-72, he was ISU's assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. He continued his association with Majors at Pittsburgh, where he served as assistant head coach for the Panthers from 1973-75.
"I like to think I am a part of all three of them," Sherrill said when hired at State. "You have to admit that Coach Bryant was a man's man. Frank Broyles was an extremely intelligent coach. And Johnny Majors is the greatest PR guy in the business. I have tried to mold myself to be a part of all three of them."
Sherrill landed his first head coaching post in 1976 at Washington State University, but his stay in Pullman was short-lived. He answered the call just one year later to return to Pitt as the Panthers' head coach, and the foundation of his head coaching career was laid.
While Sherrill's reception among Bulldog fans and followers has been enthusiastic, it is with the MSU students that he has made an even greater impact.
From his impromptu spirited meeting with MSU students waiting to enter Humphrey Coliseum for the Southeastern Conference championship basketball game in March 1991, to his involvement of the student body in selecting MSU's game uniforms, to the implementation of his now-famous 12th Man kickoff coverage team in 1991, the "Mad Dawgs," Sherrill has made State students feel a part of his football program.
Away from the football field, Sherrill is a popular motivational speaker, missing few opportunities to address student and other campus groups, alumni gatherings and other civic organizations. Since arriving at MSU, he has been honored by Success Motivational Institute (SMI), as the recipient of its 1991 International Achiever Award. Sherrill also lends his support to various charitable causes, including the Leukemia Society of Pittsburgh, The Boys Club, the Shriners Children's Hospital of Houston, The Boy Scouts, and the Palmer Home for Children in Columbus, Miss.
Sherrill and his wife Peggy have five children, Elizabeth, Kellie, Bonnie, Justin, and Braxton.
| * Lettered four seasons (1962-65) at the University of Alabama
* Played seven different positions for UA
* Played on Coach Bear Bryant's 1964 and 1965 national championship squads
| * 1966: Graduate Assistant Coach, University of Alabama
* 1967: Graduate Assistant Coach, University of Arkansas
* 1968-69: Assistant Coach, Iowa State University
* 1970-72: Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator, Iowa State University
* 1973-75: Assistant Head Coach, University of Pittsburgh
* 1976: Head Coach, Washington State University
* 1977-81: Head Coach, University of Pittsburgh
* 1982-88: Head Coach, Texas A&M University
* 1991-present: Head Coach, Mississippi State
| * 1979 Eastern Coach of the Year
* 1980 Eastern Coach of the Year
* 1980 Walter Camp Coach of the Year
* 1985 Southwest Conference Coach of the Year
* 1987 Southwest Conference Coach of the Year
* 1999 National Coach of the Year Semifinalist
* 1999 GTE Region II Coach of the Year
| HEAD COACHING RECORD
Year W- L-T Pct. Conf.(Fin.) Postseason (Bowls)
1976 3- 8 .273 !2- 5(NA) -----
1977 9- 2-1 .792 ----- Gator (def. Clemson, 34-3)
1978 8- 4 .667 ----- Tangerine (lost to North Carolina St., 17-30
1979 11- 1 .917 ----- Fiesta (def. Arizona, 16-10)
1980 11- 1 .917 ----- Gator (def. South Carolina, 37-9)
1981 11- 1 .917 ----- Sugar (def. Georgia, 24-20)
1982 5- 6 .455 #3- 5(t6th) -----
1983 5- 5-1 .500 #4- 3-1(t3rd) -----
1984 6- 5 .546 #3- 5(7th) -----
1985 10- 2 .833 #7- 1(1st) Cotton (def. Auburn, 36-16)
1986 9- 3 .750 #7- 1(1st) Cotton (lost to Ohio State, 12-28)
1987 10- 2 .833 #6- 1(1st) Cotton (def. Notre Dame, 35-10)
1988 7- 5 .583 #6- 1(2nd) -----
1991 7- 5 .583 $4- 3(t4th) Liberty (lost to Air Force, 15-38)
1992 7- 5 .583 $4- 4(3rd-W) Peach (lost to North Carolina, 17-21)
1993 4- 5-2 .455 $3- 4-1(4th-W) -----
1994 8- 4 .667 $5- 3(2nd-W) Peach (lost to North Carolina St., 24-28)
1995 3- 8 .273 $1- 7(4th-W) -----
1996 5- 6 .455 $3- 5(4th-W) -----
1997 7- 4 .636 $4- 4(t3rd-W) -----
1998 8- 5 .615 $6- 2(t1st-W) Cotton (lost to Texas, 11-38)
1999 10- 2 .833 $6- 2(2nd-W) Peach (def. Clemson, 17-7)
WSU (1 yr.) 3- 8 .273 2- 5 -----
PIT (5 yrs.) 50- 9-1 .842 ----- 5 Bowls
TA&M (7 yrs.) 52-28-1 .648 36-17-1 3 Bowls
MSU (9 yrs.) 59-44-2 .562 36-34-1 5 Bowls
TOTAL (22 yrs.) 164-89-4 .638 74-56-2 13 Bowls