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No worries as Texas A&M; waits

Though tied to Texans, new coach Sherman lends hand in recruiting

12:40 AM CST on Sunday, December 23, 2007

By BRIAN DAVIS / The Dallas Morning News

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Come Wednesday, Mike Sherman will have been Texas A&M's football coach for one month. From the outside, it doesn't look as if he's done much.

Jittery A&M fans should take comfort knowing that Sherman has not ignored his new duties this December, according to school officials.

A&M athletic director Bill Byrne knew Sherman had to complete his obligation as the Houston Texans' offensive coordinator before becoming a full-time Aggie. The Texans' season finale is next Sunday.


Blog: Colleges

Valero Alamo Bowl
Texas A&M; vs. Penn State

7 p.m. Sat. (ESPN)

Schedule: Penn St. | A&M;

Statistics: Penn St. | A&M;

Bowl results: Penn St. | A&M;

Alamo Bowl results

Bowl schedule

Cowlishaw: Annual picks

More: A&M; | Bowls | Colleges

"I'm very comfortable with this," Byrne said. "We went into this with our eyes open. He has an obligation to the Houston Texans, and we accept that completely.

"He's made the same promise to them that we ask our players to make to us. They're committed to Texas A&M, and he's committed to the Texans until his agreement ends."

Juggling two jobs is difficult. Sherman apparently knew what he was getting into from his days with the Green Bay Packers. Sherman was the head coach and general manager from 2001 to 2004.

"You're doing a lot of things during the course of the day to try to wear both hats and do the very best job you can," Sherman said on Nov. 28. "And, at the end of the day, you just hope you did all you could that day and then you go get up and do it the next day."

The recruiting trail

Working in the NFL takes an incredible commitment. By all appearances, Sherman has spent what little free time he's had dealing with A&M recruiting.

With the help of the current coaching staff, the Aggies have held on to 24 oral commitments. The class is ranked 10th nationally by Rivals.com.

Sherman called A&M's orally committed players shortly after being hired on Nov. 26, mainly to introduce himself. He's also made two trips to College Station to meet recruits in person.

McKinney Boyd receiver Jeff Fuller, rated by Rivals.com as the state's 13th-best recruit, met Sherman on Dec. 7. Fuller had given an oral commitment to Oklahoma but changed his mind and switched to A&M. Fuller is expected to enroll in January.

The Texans hosted the Denver Broncos on Dec. 13, a Thursday night. Sherman spent the next two days in College Station, meeting with about 10 recruits who were making unofficial visits.

Birdville quarterback Tommy Dorman, who was in attendance, said Sherman met with all the recruits for about 15 minutes. Then Sherman sat with Dorman and his family for about 30 minutes during lunch so he could get to know them.

"He talked about his family, and we talked about ours," Dorman said. "We just got to know each other a little bit. It's a lot easier to talk to someone when you're sitting there face to face. I was very impressed."

Fortunately for Sherman, he didn't have to recruit too long.

The NCAA-mandated "dead period" began Monday and runs through Jan. 1. Coaches can still call recruits but can't make off-campus visits. Recruiting picks up again full steam in January leading up to national signing day Feb. 6.

New staff coming

Also by NCAA rule, Sherman cannot hire a new coaching staff until the previous staff is dismissed. Most of the current coaches will not be retained, although all are helping A&M prepare for the Valero Alamo Bowl this Saturday.

Byrne said that the school was in the process of posting assistant coaching jobs, as required by state law, and that an announcement on hires should come in early January.

Sherman's only hire so far is Tim Cassidy, A&M's recruiting coordinator from 1989 to 2004. Cassidy, the associate athletic director for football, has been Sherman's primary contact to Aggieland. The two talk every day.

Cassidy thanked the current coaches for maintaining their professionalism during the transition.

"A lot of circumstances like this, you'd be scrambling around trying to find players," Cassidy said. "But since these guys have done a great job of preparation, they continue to hold what looks like could be an outstanding recruiting class."

Cassidy is helping recruits feel at ease. Former coach Dennis Franchione told Dorman that A&M would sign only one quarterback in February. Dorman wanted to make sure that was still the case.

"Tim Cassidy said they looked at film and said I'm 100 percent their guy," Dorman said. "Hearing that from the guys who are in control was real good to hear."

In the meantime, Franchione's defensive coordinator, Gary Darnell, is in control as interim head coach. A&M players understand this is an awkward time. Quarterback Stephen McGee said the transition is going as smoothly as possible.

"He's kind of burning his candle at both ends right now," McGee said of Sherman. "He's got a lot to do. He's trying to hire a staff here, trying to recruit, keep recruits and he's trying to win games on Sunday and get his offense and game plan done during the week.

"Even considering all that's going on, he's still made time to come and get to know us as players."


Staff writer Brian Davis answers some key questions about A&M's transition to Mike Sherman from Dennis Franchione:

Has Sherman kept A&M's recruiting class intact?

Yes. He's reached out to all of A&M's orally committed players and even persuaded McKinney Boyd receiver Jeff Fuller to change his commitment to A&M from Oklahoma. The Aggies have 24 oral commitments. The class is ranked 10th nationally by Rivals.com.

When will Sherman hire a new coaching staff?

Sherman cannot hire any new coaches until the current staff is dismissed, according to NCAA rules. Expect to hear something in early January.

Will Sherman run the 3-4 base defense and bring back the "Wrecking Crew"?

Tim Cassidy, A&M's new associate athletic director for football, said Sherman has not chosen a defensive alignment yet. It will be based on the personnel and whatever scheme the new coaches are comfortable with.

Will Sherman start Jerrod Johnson at quarterback next season?

Too early to say. Stephen McGee will be a senior, Johnson a sophomore. Johnson has a huge upside but lacks experience. The quarterback who can best learn Sherman's offense is likely to get the first shot.

Who's in charge during the Valero Alamo Bowl?

Defensive coordinator Gary Darnell has been named interim head coach for the game.

Valero Alamo Bowl: Texas A&M (7-5) vs. Penn State (8-4), 7 p.m. Saturday, San Antonio (ESPN)

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