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Monday, November 28, 2011
Surveying the Big 12 coaching hot seats

By David Ubben

Today's the day commonly known in the coaching profession as Black Monday, the first weekday after most regular seasons are finished. One Big 12 coach, Kansas' Turner Gill, already got his plug pulled.

What about the Big 12's other two coaches on the hot seat?

Let's take a look.

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech (13-12, 5-12 Big 12)

What should happen: Stay

What will happen: Stay

Why: Breaking a streak of 18 consecutive winning seasons is a good way to maximize fan frustration, and that happened at Texas Tech this season. That said, it would be wrong not to factor in injuries. Texas Tech dealt with injuries the past two seasons unlike any other team in the Big 12. This season, it got so bad the Red Raiders ended up moving receivers to starters at defensive back.

The team also lost its leading rusher, Eric Stephens, in midseason and played most of its final two games without Alex Torres. Darrin Moore is the team's most talented receiver, but he battled injuries all season after racking up 221 receiving yards in the season opener.

Additionally, Tuberville reeled in the best recruiting class in school history last February, but this year's might be even better. The Red Raiders have three ESPNU 150 commits. Only Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M have more in the 2012 class. The defense struggled for most of the season, but it was forced to switch from a 3-4 under James Willis last year to a 4-2-5 under Chad Glasgow this year, and injuries made the transition even more difficult.

The frustration is warranted, but a change at head coach is not.

Mike Sherman, Texas A&M (25-25, 15-18 Big 12)

What should happen: Stay

What will happen: Stay

Why: There's no question Mike Sherman has resuscitated this program, loading it with big-time assistant coaches and upgrading the talent every single season. The Aggies, in Sherman's third year, had as much talent as any team in the Big 12. That means a lot. Texas A&M was favored in 11 games this season and led 11 of those games by double digits.

The second-half failures, however, have produced understandable frustration. Texas A&M, though, is headed to the SEC next season and will lose a lot of major contributors from this season's team like quarterback Ryan Tannehill, running back Cyrus Gray, wide receiver Jeff Fuller, safety Trent Hunter, linebacker Garrick Williams and defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie. That's a lot.

The transition to the SEC could be significantly smoother if the Aggies aren't dealing with a complete system overhaul, too. The A&M recruiting class in 2012 is likely to rank in the national top 10, but 6-6 is 6-6. Next season is going to be difficult, and it's not very likely that Texas A&M would be in position to win more than 7-8 games with a young roster and a new, more difficult conference home.

All the negatives for Sherman showed up on the record this year, but you can't ignore the biggest positive: This team got a whole lot better very fast under Sherman. The Aggies lost three games by a combined seven points and lost two more in overtime this year. The 6-6 record could have easily have been 11-1. Do the Aggies believe a new coach could continue that growth and get A&M over the hump? Seems like a big risk from my perspective, and despite the frustrations of this season, Sherman deserves another chance to prove he can get the program over the hump.