Friday, October 17, 2003
Mississippi State's Jackie Sherrill to retire at end of season
JACKSON, Miss. -- Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill
will retire at the end of the season, ending speculation about the
future of the school's winningest coach.
Sherrill posted a letter on the school's athletic Web site
Friday, saying he told Mississippi State president Charles Lee and
athletic director Larry Templeton about his decision earlier this
"I feel this advance notice gives the administration ample time
to hire a new head football coach and make sure the football
program continues to get back to where everyone wants it to be and
it deserves to be," Sherrill wrote.
The Bulldogs are 2-4 heading into Saturday's game at Auburn and
are coming off two straight three-win seasons. It is the worst
stretch of Sherrill's 26-year career, which includes stops at
Pittsburgh and Texas A&M.
Sherrill is in his 13th season at Mississippi State.
Sherrill and his team were traveling to Auburn on Friday night.
Templeton released a statement and said Sherrill told his
players about his decision Friday.
"On behalf of the entire Mississippi State family, I express
our sincere appreciation to him for the outstanding leadership and
coaching job he has provided our football program during the past
13 years," wrote Templeton, who was also traveling to Auburn.
Mississippi State's recent failures have led to rampant
speculation about the 59-year-old coach's future, though a current
two-game winning streak has muffled some of the fans' grumbling.
The Bulldogs snapped a nine-game losing streak and a nine-game
Southeastern Conference losing streak two weeks ago against
Vanderbilt, then followed it up with a victory over Memphis.
Mississippi State has gone 8-21 overall and 2-15 in the
Southeastern Conference since 2001.
The drastic downturn for the Bulldogs came on the heels of the
program's greatest success. From 1997-2000, Sherrill guided
Mississippi State to a 33-15 record that included an SEC West title
in 1998 and a school-record 10 wins in 1999.
"When I took this job, I said that we deserve to win and we
would win. We have experienced some of the greatest moments ever at
Scott Field," Sherrill wrote. "We have been to the Liberty Bowl,
the Peach Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, and the Independence Bowl, and,
most importantly, had the thrill of participating in the SEC
When Sherrill was hired by Mississippi State, he had been out of
coaching for two years, following a messy end to his seven-year
stint in College Station.
Sherrill was forced out at Texas A&M and soon after the Aggies
were slammed with NCAA sanctions for dozens of violations committed
under Sherrill's watch.
He was hired by Templeton and took over at Mississippi State in
1991. He immediately brought success to the perennially
cellar-dwelling Bulldogs, taking them to a bowl game in his first
But his time in Starkville has not been without controversy.
In 1991, he caused a clamor by having a bull castrated in front
of his players before a game against Texas.
The Bulldogs were placed on NCAA probation in 1995 for improper
activities by boosters.
Mississippi State is currently being scrutinized by the NCAA
again. The Bulldogs are awaiting word on an investigation into
alleged violations by the football program from 1998-2002.
And there were many calling for Sherrill to be replaced during
consecutive losing seasons in 1995 and 1996.
The resilient Sherrill, who coached Dan Marino during his days
at Pittsburgh, weathered the tough times and in 2000 became the
winningest coach in school history.
Sherrill is 75-69-2 at Mississippi State and 180-114-4 overall.
He is fourth among active coaches in Division I-A in victories.