Mississippi State football
has reached a new level of success under head coach Jackie
Never was that more evident than when Sherrill took the Mississippi State football
team to the 1998 Southeastern Conference championship game on Dec. 5 in Atlanta's
Georgia Dome. By directing MSU to the SEC's Western Division title, he had
the Bulldogs playing for a league title for the first time in 57 years. Without
question, he has built the school's football program to its highest point in
But his on-field accomplishments have been just part of the success story.
His reputation as a winner has brought the entire Mississippi State community
alumni and fans, faculty and students alike, together as never before. His
presence has Bulldog followers pulling in the same direction for the first
time in years. The results have been amazing. With Sherrill at the helm, MSU
has established record season ticket sales and total attendance marks. He led
MSU to the school's most television appearances in one year ever in 1991, 1992,
1996, 1997 and again in 1999.
Producing the remarkable and amazing is nothing new for Sherrill. In the 1970s
and '80s, he established himself as one of the country's best, with head coaching
stops at Washington State, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M. He is making a similar
statement in the 1990s at Mississippi State, and Bulldog fans have relished
in his work.
Never has the announcement of a Mississippi State University head football
coach caused more excitement and anticipation than when Jackie Sherrill was
presented to the MSU faithful on December 9, 1990.
A builder of excellence at two college football powers, the winner of over
150 games as a college head coach, and the holder of the 14th-best winning
percentage of all active Division I head coaches, Sherrill has accomplished
all that and much more during 21 seasons in intercollegiate athletics.
It is that reputation that has MSU fans beside themselves, even now, seven
years after his initial season with the Bulldogs. State fans responded in '92
by purchasing every available season ticket, another first at MSU. In succeeding
years, State exhausted its bowl ticket supply and helped set attendance records
at both the Liberty and Peach Bowls.
His arrival as State's 30th head coach was a homecoming of sorts for Sherrill.
Though a native of Duncan, Oklahoma, Sherrill spent part of his youth in Biloxi,
where he starred on the football team at Biloxi High School. He played on two
Shrimp Bowl teams and, as a senior, earned high school all-America distinction
and team most valuable player honors before graduating in 1962.
During the 1970s and '80s, Sherrill posted a 105-45-2 record, guiding teams
at the University of Pittsburgh and Texas A&M to eight postseason bowl
appearances and six top-10 finishes. His .697 winning percentage during that
time ranked behind only Tom Osborne of Nebraska, Joe Paterno of Penn State,
Lavell Edwards of Brigham Young, Pat Dye of Auburn and Bobby Bowden of Florida
His 1985-87 Texas A&M teams rolled to a 29-7-1 record, advancing to three
straight Cotton Bowls as champions of the Southwest Conference. Prior to that,
his final three Pittsburgh teams (1979-81) posted a 33-3 record and finished
their seasons in the Fiesta, Gator and Sugar Bowls, respectively.
During his seven-year stay in College Station, Texas, the Aggies posted a 52-28-1
overall record, 36-17-1 within the SWC. After three building seasons, A&M
posted 10-win campaigns in 1985 and '87, and Sherrill was named Southwest Conference
Coach of the Year both years. Those teams beat Auburn (36-16) and Notre Dame
(35-10) in respective Cotton Bowls. He was named national coach of the year
by PLAYBOY magazine in its 1988 preseason publication.
His five-year tenure at Pitt resulted in a 50-9-1 record, five straight postseason
bowl games and four top-10 national rankings. His 1980 team finished the year
ranked second in the nation and his '81 Panthers beat SEC champ Georgia in
the Sugar Bowl. During that span, Sherrill was honored as the Eastern Coach
of the Year (1979 and '80), and was named the Walter Camp Coach of the Year
(1980). In 1981, he was honored as the Pittsburgh Man of the Year and the Dapper
Dan Sportsman of the Year in Pittsburgh.
In all, Sherrill has posted a 6-5 record in postseason bowl play. He is one
of only 15 head coaches in NCAA history to take three different schools to
postseason bowl competition. Sherrill joins Ken Hatfield (Air Force), Larry
Smith (Missouri) and Mack Brown (Texas) as the only active head coaches to
lead three different institutions to bowl games.
But far greater than the numbers is the effect he has had on his players through
the years. He has coached the likes of Heisman Trophy candidate and current
all-Pro quarterback Dan Marino, Lombardi Trophy and Maxwell Trophy winner Hugh
Green, Outland Trophy winner Mark May and Pro Bowl regular Ray Childress. Over
100 of his pupils have advanced to careers in professional football and over
80 percent of his student-athletes have graduated during his career.
Sherrill's coaching foundation can be tied to three men of great stature in
the world of college coaching.
Sherrill played for the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant at the University
of Alabama, where he played seven different positions for the Crimson Tide
from 1962 until 1965. He lettered three years at Alabama and played on Bryant's
1964 and '65 national championship teams.
Upon earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration at Alabama
in 1966, Sherrill launched an assistant coaching career that included stints
on not only Bryant's staff, but those of respected coaches Frank Broyles and
He served first on Bryant's staff as a graduate assistant coach at Alabama
(1966), and held a similar position on Broyles' staff at Arkansas (1967).
His first full-time coaching appointment came a year later in 1968 at Iowa
State where he served as an assistant under Majors. From 1970-72, he was ISU's
assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. He continued his association
with Majors at Pittsburgh, where he served as assistant head coach for the
Panthers from 1973-75.
" I like to think I am a part of all three of them," Sherrill said
when hired at State. "You have to admit that Coach Bryant was a man's man.
Frank Broyles was an extremely intelligent coach. And Johnny Majors is the greatest
PR guy in the business. I have tried to mold myself to be a part of all three
Sherrill landed his first head coaching post in 1976 at Washington State University,
but his stay in Pullman was short-lived. He answered the call just one year
later to return to Pitt as the Panthers' head coach, and the foundation of
his head coaching career was laid. While Sherrill's reception among Bulldog
fans and followers has been enthusiastic, it is with the MSU students that
he has made an even greater impact.
From his impromptu spirited meeting with MSU students waiting to enter Humphrey
Coliseum for the Southeastern Conference championship basketball game in March
1991, to his involvement of the student body in selecting MSU's game uniforms,
to the implementation of his now-famous 12th Man kickoff coverage team in 1991,
the "Mad Dawgs," Sherrill has made State students feel a part of
his football program.
The idea of the 12th Man all-volunteer team came to Sherrill in 1982 upon his
first visit to the preparations being made for the annual Aggie Bonfire at
Texas A&M. Installed in 1983, Sherrill deployed student volunteers with
no athletic scholarships to cover kickoffs during A&M home games.
Another popular innovation put into motion by Sherrill was the Mississippi
State University Varsity-Alumni Spring Game, played each year from 1992-94.
The contest attracted more than 10,000 fans to MSU's Scott Field and brought
more than 100 former MSU players back to campus for a weekend of fun, fellowship
Away from the football field, Sherrill is a popular motivational speaker, missing
few opportunities to address student and other campus groups, alumni gatherings
and other civic organizations. Since arriving at MSU, he has been honored by
Success Motivational Institute (SMI), as the recipient of its 1991 International
Achiever Award. Sherrill also lends his support to various charitable causes,
including the Leukemia Society of Pittsburgh, The Boys Club, the Shriners Children's
Hospital of Houston, The Boy Scouts, and the Palmer Home for Children in Columbus,
Sherrill and his wife Peggy have five children, Elizabeth, Kellie, Bonnie,
Justin, and Braxton. Playing Career
Lettered four seasons (1962-65) at the
University of Alabama
Played seven different positions for
Played on Coach Bear Bryant's 1964 and
1965 national championship squads
1966: Graduate Assistant Coach, University
1967: Graduate Assistant Coach, University
1968-69: Assistant Coach, Iowa State
1970-72: Assistant Head Coach/Defensive
Coordinator, Iowa State University
1973-75: Assistant Head Coach, University
1976: Head Coach, Washington State University
1977-81: Head Coach, University of Pittsburgh
1982-88: Head Coach, Texas A&M University
1991-present: Head Coach, Mississippi
Notes On Coach Sherrill