After missing the mark on Dennis Franchione while watching but a couple of redeeming wins over hated Texas as highlights, Texas A&M moved to rekindle some of the magic of the 1980s and '90s by hiring former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman. Whether grizzled Sherman and company can recruit effectively remains to be seen.
Regardless of recruiting, Sherman’s charge is to make the most of what Franchione left for him. As Darrell Royal once said, "Anytime you’re taking over a program in need of a coaching change, you’re not exactly inheriting a warm bed."
True enough, but can the Aggies feel any sense of "warmth" at present in light of their new staff’s start?
Let’s review this season through Week Five.
A&M stands currently at 2-2, which sounds "OK" at this stage. Looking beyond the general, though, should cause a sense of despondency for the Aggies. The two victories came against New Mexico and Army—not exactly stalwarts of the NCAA landscape.
Most telling is that the wins came with great struggle. It should be noted that any legitimate power ratings, such as Jeff Sagarin’s, have these teams near the basement.
Army, in fact, sits at the bottom, even behind over 70 teams from I-AA. The Black Knights are 0-4, with losses to "powers" such as Temple, Akron, and I-AA New Hampshire.
This past week, Army lumbered its sagging program into College Station, TX, and found Texas A&M hospitable, almost to the point of going back home with a victory. In the end, the home team prevailed, but not before producing buckets of sweat.
The Black Knights, in falling 21-17, made it their closest contest of a winless year against a weak schedule.
The prior Aggie victory over New Mexico also was claimed only after severe effort. The Lobos vastly outgained Texas A&M while holding it to 236 yards of offense. If not for an interception return for a score and two late onside kick recoveries, Mike Sherman’s favored squad would have tasted defeat again.
That victory, A&M’s first of the year, followed an embarrassing home defeat to Arkansas State in the opener. In listening to the pundits, we were expected to believe the Aggies simply gave the game away through cited miscues.
However, a quick review shows Arkansas State rolling up 415 yards while allowing A&M just 303. Sure doesn’t sound like a fluke, does it?
The earlier noted home game win over Army was A&M’s first in its not-so-friendly confines, as Miami had paid a visit the prior week, bludgeoning the Ags 41-23 after blowing out to a 41-10 edge in the third quarter.
For those who vividly recall Texas A&M’s fortunes starting with Jackie Sherrill, you’re probably stunned at the vast contrast with the present. Kyle Field, its home turf, was almost unapproachable, and the Ags repeatedly won their conference title.
Now, after 12 seasons in the Big 12, A&M has managed one conference title, and that was a decade ago.
It’s naturally expected that Mike Sherman’s program will improve from its current dismal state—it almost has to, as the school boasts too many resources not to produce a better showing.
Whether it’s going to be ready in the foreseeable future to just win the South division looks dubious. Right now, even Baylor looks like a better squad.