Monday, July 18, 2016
In the history of Mississippi State University football, one coach has coached, won and lost the most games: Jackie Sherrill, who led the Bulldogs from 1991 to 2003.
During his time in Starkville, Sherrill coached in 152 games, and won and lost 75 with two ties. But it wasn't just wins and loses that Sherrill brought to MSU in his 13 seasons. He changed the culture within the program and built the downtrodden Bulldogs into a winner.
Sherrill was born in Duncan, Okla., but became a football star at Biloxi High School, where he became an All-American as a senior. He played on two Shrimp Bowl teams while in high school and in 1962, his final season at Biloxi, he was named the team's Most Valuable Player.
He played college football at the University of Alabama for legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. The future coach earned three letters, played seven positions and was a member of the 1964 and 1965 Crimson Tide national championship teams.
Working as a graduate assistant at Alabama in 1966, Sherrill earned his bachelor's degree in business administration. He moved on to Arkansas as a graduate assistant in 1967 and received his first full-time coaching job at Iowa State University in 1968.
At Iowa State, he rose to the position of assistant head coach and defensive coordinator from 1970 to 1972. He took the same position at the University of Pittsburgh from 1973 to 1975.
Sherrill got his first head-coaching job at Washington State University in 1976 but only stayed one season, finishing with a 3-8 record. He returned to Pittsburgh in 1977 as the new head coach when Johnny Majors left to become the head coach of the University of Tennessee.
In five seasons with the Panthers, Sherrill compiled a 50-9-1 record and led his team to five straight bowl games and won four out of five of those bowl games. He received numerous awards while head coach for Pittsburgh, including Walter Camp Coach of the Year in 1980.
Sherrill left Pittsburgh to become the next coach at Texas A&M University in 1982. He spent seven seasons at College Station and accumulated a record of 52-28-1 before he left in 1988 after being dogged by a NCAA investigation.
Texas A&M was placed on two-years probation in 1988, but Sherrill was not found guilty of any infractions. While head coach of the Aggies, Sherrill was named Southwest Conference Coach of the Year from 1985 to 1987.
He led the Aggies to three straight Cotton Bowl trips and finished with two wins out of the three games. That was the only bowl game he led Texas A&M to during his tenure at the school.
After three years away from coaching, Sherrill was named the next coach of Mississippi State in December 1990. He had an instant impact on the program, finishing the 1991 season with 7-5 record and a bowl trip to the Liberty Bowl that ended in a loss.
In his second season at MSU, Sherrill famously castrated a bull in front of his team before the 1992 opening game of the season against the University of Texas. The Bulldogs upset the Longhorns 28-10, as the team went on to finish with a 7-5 record and second straight bowl trip.
MSU headed to the Peach Bowl, but the Bulldogs lost their second straight bowl game. In 1993, the team slipped to a 3-6 record but bounced back in 1994 with a 8-4 record, a third bowl loss and second Peach Bowl loss.
Sherrill might have done his best coaching job for the Bulldogs during the 1998 and 1999 seasons, and the 1998 season might be one of the most memorable in MSU history.
While MSU finished the season with an 8-3 record, a win over Arkansas gave the Bulldogs the SEC West title, something rival the University of Mississippi hadn't done. The team lost the SEC Championship Game to eventual national champions Tennessee and then fell in the Cotton Bowl to Texas.
MSU returned with an even stronger team in 1999, as it finished the season with a 10-2 record, and Sherrill won his first bowl game at MSU. The Bulldogs won the Peach Bowl in their third try under Sherrill.
The Bulldogs finished the 2000 season with an 8-4 record and a second straight bowl win in the Independence Bowl. That was the last winning season Sherrill had as head coach at MSU.
In his final three seasons with the Bulldogs, Sherrill had an 8-27 record from 2001 to 2003. More NCAA allegations began to creep up towards the end of the coach's tenure in Starkville. He wasn't found guilty of any rules violations for a second time.
Sherrill announced his retirement in the middle of the 2003 season and hasn't returned to coaching since. During his time at MSU, the coach pulled off numerous upsets over Alabama, Louisiana State University, University of Florida and others. He finished this time with a 7-6 record against rival University of Mississippi.
When he retired, Sherrill finished his career with a 180-120-4 overall record and 8-6 bowl record.
The hiring of Sherrill led to more TV appearances, more ticket sales, upgrades to facilities, better recruits, and more wins for the Bulldogs, and excited the MSU fan base. He proved that the Bulldogs could compete in the tough SEC West and battle the top teams in the conference.
Sherrill will be one of the six newest members of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum's 2016 Hall of Fame Class. The former coach will be inducted into the hall on Saturday, July 30, at the Jackson Convention Complex.
He will be joined by former Millsaps College football star Sean Brewer, former University of Southern Mississippi football star Willie Heidelburg, former USM women's basketball coach Kay James, former Alcorn State University basketball star Larry Smith and former Rebels tight end Wesley Walls.
Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter will receive the fifth Rube Award at the induction.
For more information call 601-982-8264 or visit msfame.com/2016-bancorsouth-induction-weekend/ to download schedule, ticket info and sponsor info.