Just 63 hours after Dennis Franchione stepped down, Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne gave a big thumbs-up to Mike Sherman, bringing the former Aggie assistant back into the fold as A&M’s new head football coach Monday.
“I feel like I’ve come home to a special place,” Sherman said. “You have no idea how much I look forward to this challenge.”
A&M gave Sherman a seven-year contract paying $1.8 million per year.
Byrne said that Sherman requested that he not be paid the $2 million-plus that Franchione was making. “He said, ‘I would rather take less and go out and hire the best coordinators and coaches,’ ” Byrne said.
The 52-year-old Sherman, a Massachusetts native and product of Central Connecticut State, is former head coach of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers (2000 to 2005). Most recently, he has served as offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, a job that brought him back to the shadow of A&M. Sherman had spent two stints in Aggieland as the Aggies’ offensive line coach from 1989-93 and 1995-96.
“I believe in everything about this university, from the ‘Hullabaloo caneck, caneck’ to Muster,” Sherman said.
He compared the fans at Texas A&M to those at Green Bay. “You want the Aggies to be happy, just as in Green Bay you wanted to make the Cheeseheads happy,” Sherman said.
He called Texas A&M a “sleeping giant.”
“We have only an expectation of winning the national championship,” Sherman said. “Bill has expressed to me that is one of his dreams and it’s one of mine.”
Sherman said he will fulfill his contractual obligations to the Texans and will finish the season with the NFL team. But he said he would also begin his work at Texas A&M, saying he planned to start calling recruits after Monday’s press conference.
He said he has not contacted or hired anyone yet for his staff, given how quickly he was hired at A&M.
Gary Darnell, the defensive coordinator under Franchione, will serve as interim coach for the Aggies’ bowl game.
Sherman said he was contacted after Friday’s A&M victory over Texas and got the word that he had the job after the Texans’ loss at Cleveland on Sunday.
Byrne was asked about his vow Friday night to conduct a “national search” — a search that ended less than three days later with a coach working nearby in Houston. Byrne answered that he keeps up with coaches nationwide, continually updating a mental list of people he might like to hire. He said former Aggie players and others had called to recommend Sherman.
Byrne said that Sherman was the only coach to be interviewed for the job, although he had evaluated other coaches “in case Mike and I didn’t get along. … Mike was our top choice.”
And Sherman joked that, technically, the search did go beyond the state’s borders, saying, “I was in Cleveland yesterday.”
Sherman declined to offer specifics on what type of schemes he will run at A&M, saying those decisions would be based on the strengths of the players.
“I want to be aggressive on both sides of the ball. Let me leave it at that,” Sherman said, adding, “We will have an offense and a defense.”