Jackie Sherrill

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Jackie Sherrill
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born (1943-11-28) November 28, 1943 (age 77)
Duncan, Oklahoma
Playing career
1962–1965 Alabama
Position(s) Fullback, linebacker
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1966 Alabama (GA)
1967 Arkansas (GA)
1968–1969 Iowa State (DB)
1970–1972 Iowa State (AHC/DC)
1973–1975 Pittsburgh (AHC/DC)
1976 Washington State
1977–1981 Pittsburgh
1982–1988 Texas A&M
1991–2003 Mississippi State
Head coaching record
Overall 180–120–4
Bowls 8–6
Accomplishments and honors
3 SWC (1985–1987)
1 SEC Western Division (1998)
Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award (1981)
SWC Coach of the Year (1985, 1986, 1987)[1]

Jackie Wayne Sherrill (born November 28, 1943) is a former American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at Washington State University (1976), the University of Pittsburgh (1977–1981), Texas A&M University (1982–1988), and Mississippi State University (1991–2003), compiling a career college football record of 180–120–4. Sherrill is currently a studio analyst for Fox Sports Net's college football coverage and a writer for Texags.com.

Playing career

Sherrill played football at the University of Alabama under Bear Bryant from 1962 to 1965, helping the Crimson Tide win two national championships.

Coaching career

Washington State

Sherrill was the head coach at Washington State in 1976. During his one season at the Pullman campus, the Cougars won three games and lost eight.


Sherrill was the head coach at the University of Pittsburgh from 1977 to 1981. Before going to Washington State, Sherrill had served as an assistant at Pittsburgh under head coach Johnny Majors. When Majors left Pittsburgh to return to his alma mater at the University of Tennessee, Sherrill returned to become the head coach of the Panthers. He is credited with grooming quarterback Dan Marino, who went on to a prolific Hall of Fame career in the National Football League after being Sherrill's last quarterback at Pitt, from 1979 to 1982. During his tenure, Sherrill's coaching staff included future NFL head coaches Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt. In Sherrill's five seasons at Pittsburgh, the Panthers won 50 games, lost nine, and had one tie.

When asked about retirement, Joe Paterno once said that he would not, because it would leave college football in the hands of "the Jackie Sherrills and the Barry Switzers".[2] Paterno apologized to Switzer for the comment, but wrote in his book that he "didn't give a damn about what Sherrill felt."[3] Paterno later said that the comment was made off-the-record and in jest during a party at Paterno's house, but it was printed anyway. Sherrill and Paterno later became friends – and Sherrill and his wife were guests of the Paternos in State College in 2004.[4] Notably, Sherrill went 2–3 in five games leading Pitt against Penn State, including a 48–14 loss in 1981 that destroyed Pitt's chances at a second national championship in five years.[5]

Texas A&M

On January 19, 1982, Sherrill was hired by Texas A&M as a replacement for Tom Wilson, signing a record six-year contract over $1.7 million.[6] Sherrill was the head coach of the Texas Aggies from 1982 to 1988. While head coach at A&M Sherrill started the tradition of the "12th Man Kickoff Team", this tradition is still observed by A&M today only in a significantly scaled back form, including a single walk-on rather than an entire return team unit. In his seven seasons as the coach of the Aggies, Texas A&M won 52 games, lost 28, and had one tie. Texas A&M won three consecutive Southwest Conference championships under Sherrill, in 1985, 1986 and 1987. As a result, the Aggies played in the Cotton Bowl Classic at the end of each season, defeating Auburn University 36–16 on January 1, 1986 and Notre Dame 35–10 on January 1, 1988, and losing to Ohio State University 28–12 on January 1, 1987. He is also one of the few coaches to leave Texas A&M with a winning record against the Longhorns, winning his last five against Texas after losing his first two. However, he only won two out of seven games versus Texas A&M's other conference rival, Arkansas, in that same time span.

In 1988, Sherrill's Aggies were put under probation by the NCAA for a period of two years. Violations included improper employment, extra benefits, unethical conduct and lack of institutional control.[7][8] Sherrill was not personally found guilty of any infractions. However, in December 1988, Sherrill resigned.

Mississippi State

After three years away from the game, Sherrill was hired as head coach at Mississippi State University in 1991. He took over a program that hadn't had a winning season since 1986 (and had won a total of 14 games in that stretch) and hadn't had a winning record in Southeastern Conference play since 1981. Sherrill began his Mississippi State career with an upset victory over a familiar foe from his A&M days, the Texas Longhorns (who were the defending Southwest Conference champions).

In thirteen seasons in Starkville, Sherrill coached the Bulldogs to a record of 75–75–2. His 75 wins are the most in school history. He led the team to a share of the SEC West title in 1998. A 22-21 win over Arkansas garnered the Bulldogs an appearance in the SEC Championship Game, but they lost to eventual national champion Tennessee. To date, it is MSU's only SEC West division title. They finished the season with a berth in the Cotton Bowl Classic—the Bulldogs' most prestigious bowl game in decades. A year later, he notched a 10–2 record, a final ranking of #12 in the AP Poll, and an appearance in the Peach Bowl. That #12 ranking was the highest final ranking achieved by any NCAA Division I-A school in Mississippi in over 30 years. Sherrill, along with Bill Snyder of Kansas State, were among the first to use the rich JUCO systems of their respective states to help their programs progress.

Although Sherrill won only eight games in his last three seasons, he built Mississippi State into a consistent winner despite playing in the same division as powerhouses like Alabama, Auburn and LSU. He also finished with a winning record against in-state rival Ole Miss (7–6). Under Sherrill, the Bulldogs went to six bowl games; before his arrival they'd only been to seven bowls in their entire history.

Sherrill also helped to develop a rivalry with new SEC member Arkansas, starting in 1992 when Razorbacks joined the conference. Sherrill was familiar with Arkansas from his days at Texas A&M, but his Mississippi State teams didn't fare much better versus the Razorbacks, winning only three out of twelve games with one tie, including losing the final five match-ups.

Sherrill also achieved notoriety by having his team observe the castration of a bull as a motivational technique prior to a game versus Texas. Unranked Mississippi State subsequently beat the #13 ranked Longhorns.[9]

Sherrill retired after the 2003 season, which was followed by the NCAA levying probation for four years on the program.[10] Despite a prolonged 3 year investigation by the NCAA, Mississippi State was [11] not found guilty of any major violations, and Sherrill was never personally found guilty of any NCAA rules violations at either Mississippi State or Texas A&M.

Sherrill has an ongoing lawsuit against the NCAA, Rich Johanningmeier (the principal NCAA investigator in the MSU probation), and Julie Gibert (a female Ole Miss booster), alleging 18 counts of wrongdoing. Among the allegations include charges that the NCAA defamed him and conspired to drive him out of coaching, that Johanningmeier was unethically influenced by the female Ole Miss booster in his investigation of MSU, and that they conspired to fabricate NCAA charges against him.[12][13][14][15]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Washington State Cougars (Pacific-8 Conference) (1976)
1976 Washington State 3–8 2–5
Washington State: 3–8 2–5
Pittsburgh Panthers (NCAA Division I / I-A independent) (1977–1981)
1977 Pittsburgh 9–2–1 W Gator 7 8
1978 Pittsburgh 8–4 L Tangerine
1979 Pittsburgh 11–1 W Fiesta 6 7
1980 Pittsburgh 11–1 W Gator 2 2
1981 Pittsburgh 11–1 W Sugar 2 4
Pittsburgh: 50–9–1
Texas A&M Aggies (Southwest Conference) (1982–1988)
1982 Texas A&M 5–6 3–5 T–6th
1983 Texas A&M 5–5–1 4–3–1 T–3rd
1984 Texas A&M 6–5 3–5 7th
1985 Texas A&M 10–2 7–1 1st W Cotton 6 6
1986 Texas A&M 9–3 7–1 1st L Cotton 12 13
1987 Texas A&M 10–2 6–1 1st W Cotton 9 10
1988 Texas A&M 7–5 6–1 2nd
Texas A&M: 52–28–1 36–17–1
Mississippi State Bulldogs (Southeastern Conference) (1991–2003)
1991 Mississippi State 7–5 4–3 T–4th L Liberty
1992 Mississippi State 7–5 4–4 3rd (Western) L Peach 23
1993 Mississippi State 4–5–2 3–4–1 4th (Western)
1994 Mississippi State 8–4 5–3 2nd (Western) L Peach 25 24
1995 Mississippi State 3–8 1–7 4th (Western)
1996 Mississippi State 5–6 3–5 4th (Western)
1997 Mississippi State 7–4 4–4 T–3rd (Western)
1998 Mississippi State 8–5 6–2 1st (Western) L Cotton
1999 Mississippi State 10–2 6–2 2nd (Western) W Peach 12 13
2000 Mississippi State 8–4 4–4 T–3rd (Western) W Independence 22 24
2001 Mississippi State 3–8 2–6 6th (Western)
2002 Mississippi State 3–9 0–8 6th (Western)
2003 Mississippi State 2–10 1–7 6th (Western)
Mississippi State: 75–75–2 43–59–1
Total: 180–120–4
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.


External links