Sherman's time with Texans nears end


Sherman will head to A&M with 11 years of NFL coaching experience.

Come Sunday, Dec. 30, Texans offensive coordinator Mike Sherman will be sitting up high in the Reliant Stadium press box as usual, eyeing formations, analyzing defensive tendencies and calling plays to put quarterback Sage Rosenfels in position to move the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Fast forward to Monday, Dec. 31, and Sherman will be back at Reliant Stadium with the rest of the Texans coaches. Only, unlike his colleagues, he won't be going over one last game film before a much-needed vacation.

He'll be taking one last look at his office and packing his belongings for College Station, where he will immediately take over as the head coach at Texas A&M University.

Since Sherman agreed to take the position back on Nov. 26, he has done the implausible, remaining fully focused on one job while completely committed to the other. On top of his 80-90 hour work weeks with the Texans, Sherman has spent late nights making countless recruiting phone calls, and on occasion he's driven up to College Station when the Texans leave early on Friday afternoons.

While it's been a heavy burden for Sherman, the Texans' offense certainly has not suffered. In four games since the announcement, Houston has averaged 23.5 points (one more than the 22.5 season average) and is approaching franchise season records for points and yards. The Texans also have a chance for an unprecedented eighth win.

"I'm looking forward to winning the game against Jacksonville and playing that game, playing against a good opponent like that," Sherman said. "But also at the end of it, I'm looking forward to not splitting duties and being full-time and getting done what we need to get done up there."

It's ironic to hear Sherman talk about not being full-time, considering that either of his current two jobs on its own requires nearly twice the hours of a job in most any other industry.

But that commitment is precisely why his current players know Sherman will succeed with the Aggies, where he coached the offensive line from 1989-93 and from 1995-96. From the day of his announcement, Sherman emphasized the importance of finishing 2007 with the Texans to honor his commitment to the players and staff, especially head coach Gary Kubiak, his good friend.

"He's a loyal guy," right tackle Eric Winston said of Sherman. "A lot of guys would've taken that job and bolted from here and said, 'You know what, they're not going to make the playoffs, it's not important I be there.' But you can see what kind of loyalty he has to this situation. Even though he's leaving it, he is loyal to stay throughout the season.

"I think when you're looking at developing young men from 18-23 and building them up, that's important, and I think he's going to be able to show them what work ethic and loyalty is all about."

Before he can do that, there are several major tasks on Sherman's agenda. First up is assembling a coaching staff and front office, then vigorously hitting the recruiting trail with less than two months remaining before college football's national signing day.

Sherman said he'll take many lessons from his 11 years as an NFL coach to College Station, but he also realizes that the time constraints of practicing with players who have class and other activities will force him to implement schemes with less volume than he could in the pros.

He's also preparing to cater his personal style and sense of humor to meet the maturity levels of 18-22 year-old kids.

{QUOTE}"I think here you're more like a big brother, where there you're more like a father figure," Sherman said. "We're together so much (here), they know my idiosyncracies and I know theirs, and you're more on a common ground at this level possibly than you are in college."

Sherman explained how the ups and downs of an NFL season can strengthen the bonds between players and coaches.

"In this league, you spend an awful lot of time with these guys and over the course of time you develop some great relationships with people. Throughout the course of the season, you're in the best of times and the worst of times, and because you're with people in those situations, they get to see who you are, really, and you get to see who they are.

"So there's a tremendous bond that develops between players and coaches because they've seen you at your best, they've seen you at your worst, and you come together and get ready for the next week. And so I think throughout the course of time just building those relationships is what I take with me."

Known for his sense of humor, Sherman said that being able to laugh at yourself is essential to coaching. Any player he's coached would confirm that Sherman practices that preaching, although those same players joke about Sherman's sense of humor.

"Coach Sherm, his sense of humor can be a little dry at times," guard Chester Pitts said. "It's one of those like sagey kind of dry forests; you just don't walk around in there with cigarettes. You don't want to start a fire."

But while Sherman may have to cut back slightly on joviality, he won't have to change a thing in his on-field coaching style. Players praise his emphasis on technique and playing sound football, and say that Sherman's work ethic is unparalleled.

Pitts, for one, marveled at the tireless hours, effort and energy that Sherman puts into his profession.

"I've never met a man that takes his job more seriously than him," Pitts said. "He should've been a brain surgeon with all the preparation and everything he puts into doing what he does because, oh my God, he can be beyond anal to the point of where it takes him to go above and beyond to do his job.

"But he finds a way to put a little bit more into it, and that's why he's so good at what he does."

Sherman looks forward to recruiting, which he said gives a school like A&M equal footing, if not better footing, than other schools. Instead of being relegated to who he can pick in a draft and who's available in free agency, Sherman eagerly awaits having every opportunity to target any player to come play for his team.

That will be a welcome contrast to one of the hardest things Sherman had to deal with at the NFL level: cutting players.

"Guys have worked real hard to get to this point," he said of the NFL. "This is their dream to be here, and then you have to tell them they can't do it any more, whether it's because they're older and their time is up or they just didn't have it.

"I think that's a tough thing, and particularly players that you care about that've been with you and it's time for them to retire or move on while you go in another direction. That's probably one thing I know I'm not going to miss."

In his two seasons with Kubiak and the Texans, Sherman has seen the team make great strides. This season, he said, he has seen the team develop a swagger it was missing in the past as players have fully bought into Kubiak's teachings.

"There still is work to be done, I think that's evident, but with Gary at the helm and Rick Smith picking players and Bob (McNair) as the owner, there's no question in my mind at all that this organization is headed in the right direction and it's just a matter of time before it breaks through and it's in the playoffs and winning games and becoming what Indianapolis has become over the course of their time," he said. "There's no question that'll happen.

"I'll be pulling for Gary and the staff and the Texans. I'll be a Texans fan the rest of my life. This is a great organization with great leadership."

When Sherman leaves his post in the press box around 3 p.m. CST on Sunday, he will no longer be a part of that leadership. But he hopes to leave with a historic eighth win.

Regardless of the game's outcome, he'll leave with the admiration of fellow coaches and players, and with a world of experience that should bring him nothing but success at Aggieland.

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