Friday, November 25, 2011

Will University of Texas AD’s Arrogance End 100+ Year Rivalry? Will Texas A&M Fire Football Coach Sherman?

Texas A&M University was founded in 1876 as the first public institution of higher education in Texas. It was called Texas AMC. The University of Texas followed and was founded in 1883. For nearly a century, Texas A&M University was a military school out in the middle of the Texas countryside. A&M did not allow women and focused on sending thousands of military officers into battle, including several who received the Congressional Medal of Honor (this is where the Aggies get the strong military traditions). The University of Texas, on the other hand, was placed in the Capitol of Texas, Austin, TX. The University of Texas was not a military school. It was in a big city, it was more modern, and so it became more popular.

The Aggies and the Longhorns first began playing each other in 1894. They met for the 118th time on the football field this past Thursday November 24th, 2011.

It might be the last time they meet.

In the early years of the rivalry, the Longhorns certainly had the upper hand against the less modern, military school rival and the Longhorns won most of the games. Texas A&M would still win some of the games and they built historic football traditions along the way (like the 12th Man, 1939 National Champions). The rivalry got bigger and better with every year that passed. The Aggies would build an annual bonfire to burn the week before the Texas game. The Longhorns would have a Hex rally in the week before the Aggie game. Both schools mention this rivalry in their fight song. This game was the most important game every year for Texas A&M and Texas.
In more modern times, Texas A&M became less of a military school as it transitioned into a regular university. A&M quickly became a big, modern University like the University of Texas. Add scholarship parity into the equation, and both schools became nearly even in everything from enrollment to academics and especially athletic program rankings. Today, both schools have around 50,000 students. Both schools have similar average SAT scores of new students. A&M has a top business school and UT has a top Law School. Both schools have multiple sports in the top 25 and both have sports with recent national championships. In the most recent Director’s Cup National Rankings of Overall Athletic Program Performance, A&M is ranked 8th and the Longhorns are ranked 12th.

In this modern era, from 1975 to 2011, the football rivalry is nearly even. Texas A&M University has won 19 games and UT has won 18 games out of these last 37 games played. 

In one stretch in the 1980’s and 1990’s, A&M won 11 of 12 games played between the two teams. This was the time of A&M’s Wrecking Crew and the dominance that A&M had at home (KYLE FIELD). Then Mack Brown became the coach at the University of Texas and things turned around for the Longhorns. The Longhorns started to get back into the national scene again and they even won a National Championship on the back of their star quarterback Vince Young.

This rivalry is heated, competitive and in this modern time, anyone can win the game in any given year. In modern times the rivalry is split nearly evenly down the middle in wins and losses. This year’s game is a perfect example. A&M lost the game in the way they have all season long. A&M had a second half meltdown filled with game costing mistakes. Even so, the game was neck and neck till a last-minute, questionable penalty gave UT a much needed first down that resulted in the game winning field goal for the longhorns.

Could that be a reason why UT’s Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds does not want the rivalry to continue? Dodds and Texas Coach Mack Brown have been in the hot seat with the last couple of seasons being considered as failures for the University of Texas. Big college teams typically want their non conference schedule to be as easy as possible with maybe one competitive game against a good non-conference team. With the Aggies heading to the SEC, the Longhorns would have to give up one of their easy non conference games to keep playing the Aggies. The Aggies are up for the challenge and they want to keep the rivalry alive. Texas Athletic Director on the other hand has made the silly statement that the Longhorn schedule is “booked” until 2018 and they cannot play the Aggies.

The Aggies are heading off to the SEC. They have every right to want to go to a conference that is looked upon as the best football conference in the nation. This could lead to many more perks than the Big 12 has to offer and more resources to build their football program back up. Texas A&M University is not going anywhere. It is still in Texas. Residents in Texas will now get to see some of the good SEC teams every year in College Station, TX. The Longhorns, on the other hand, are staying in the big 12 and are building their own television network. They have every right to do that too (within the NCAA guidelines of course). College football does not get money from tuition. It is its own business and has to keep building and creating sources of revenue. So the Aggies are going to a different conference and the Longhorns have their own network.

Regardless of the Longhorn Network and Regardless of the Aggies going to the SEC, the Rivalry can and should go on. There are several big name Universities that meet every year to play their in-state rivalry even though the two teams are in different conferences.

Make no question about it. The ball is in the Longhorn’s court right now. We can argue about how it all started and who did the most to hurt the rivalry, but right now, at the end of the day, most of the fans would still like to see the rivalry go on, there is big money in the game for the State of Texas, and the Aggie Athletic Director Bill Byrne says it can still be done. The only thing holding up the rivalry is the Longhorn Athletic Director who says he will not do it.
That is a shame and a horrible reason for this storied rivalry to end.

Will Texas A&M University Fire Coach Sherman?

The glory years of the 80’s and 90’s are gone, and for the last decade A&M football has been on a down-slide away from their dominance of the 80’s and 90’s. A&M hired Coach Fran (Dennis Franchione) hoping that he would turn things around, but he only drove the program into the ground, barely getting above .500 over 5 seasons. Fran did beat the Longhorns in his last two seasons as head coach but that was not good enough and he was shown the door. Coach Sherman, the great coach from the Green Bay packers, was ushered in to save the day.

It is four years later and Mike Sherman is in the Hot Seat.

Mike Sherman is now 25-25 in 4 seasons as the Head Football Coach at Texas A&M. This 2011 season will go down as one of the most disappointing seasons in Aggie History. The first two seasons in the Sherman era were not good, but he was a new coach so they gave him some time to get better. His third year, last year, was not good at first because of an injured quarterback that Sherman kept in the game. Sherman finally changed quarterbacks and A&M finished off the season in spectacular fashion. This year, Texas A&M was ranked in the top ten to begin the season. They had some of the best talent in college football and returned most of the players who were part of the Big 12 South Champion (tie) team that won 6 in a row last season against top teams like Oklahoma and Nebraska. Sherman, at most, could only lose a couple of games this season with the talent he had to work with. WRONG. Texas A&M lost 6 games. A&M would build up a large lead in the first half of these losses, but then they would lose the second half miserably. That would indicate bad second half adjustments. The quarterback did make un-timely interceptions in many of those losses, but still, the responsibility of winning games falls on the shoulders of the head coach who gets paid millions to win or to make whatever changes are necessary to win.

It is unreasonable to think that a college team will never lose any games. On the other hand, having a record of 25-25 after 4 seasons is completely unacceptable, especially given the talent that A&M has been able to round up.

There is controversy over whether Coach Sherman’s payout is around 2 million or closer to 9 million.
Depending on the payout and depending on the bowl game score, Sherman might not make it another season. Many people even believe he should be fired immediately no matter what the cost.
If A&M made the mistake of giving Sherman such a large buyout (9 million), and/or if Sherman wins this bowl game, then he will likely be back for another year.

It is also possible that A&M wants to give him another year to see how he does in the SEC.
Regardless of how things end up, this season will go down as one of the biggest failures given the amazing talent to work with.

If Sherman gets another year, I really hope he will be successful. I do not wish for him to be bad because if Sherman is bad then that means A&M is losing.

As for now, Sherman has been a failure and he is in the hot seat.


  1. Hey David-To clarify a few points, A&M does have a top business school, and so does Texas. In fact, historically UT-Austin's MBA program has been ranked higher than A&M.

    But the bigger clarification is about UT's non-conference schedule through 2018. It isn't booked in theory, it is actually and legally booked:

    Moreover, it is booked with a few easy opponents, but it also starts to load Cal, Notre Dame, USC, and Arkansas in there, so to be fair, they aren't booking the school for the blind for non conference play.

    I understand the desire to continue the rivalry. I understand the frustration about the Longhorn Network, but that is not what is ending the guaranteed rivalry. The Aggie's departure from the conference is ending the rivalry for now. Certainly, they have every right to move to the SEC as you smartly point out, but in doing so, they change the DNA of college football. Not everything will remain exactly the same.

    Texas has commitments and obligations to future opponents. Those listed on that link are not theoretical. Texas is not "washing its hair" or "has grandmother that died and can't get together," those are contractual agreements.

    Texas honors its commitments. Texas did not create this problem, and while the athletic director at UT can be dislikable, it doesn't make sense for Aggies to tell anyone that they shouldn't honor their commitments. They should attempt to book pre-season from 2018 on, and accept that as the best way to transition the rivalry.

  2. Good points... both have good business schools. I was just making a point that they both have good academic programs and just used A&M business school as an example but that does not mean University of Texas has a bad business school....also, you are right that pre season games are booked ahead of time, but pre season schedules can be changed with relative ease. Yes UT has a good opponent in non conference every year, but so does A&M who will even be playing Oregon in non conference soon. It will not be the end of the world for me if the games does not get played for a while, but it sure is a shame and does not have to be that way.