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Sherrill relives A&M memories while in Victoria

By MIKE FORMAN
April 20, 2009 at 7:02 p.m.
Updated April 19, 2009 at 11:20 p.m.

Texas A&M former football coach Jackie Sherrill, left,  shakes hands with 1966 A&M graduate Clark Walker during a visit to Victoria.

Former Texas A&M coach Jackie Sherrill was leaving Kyle Field following the Aggies' 45-13 loss to Texas in 1983 when he asked Billy Pickard, the school's director of facilities, what the Texas fans were chanting.

"Billy said they were saying, 'Poor Aggies,'" Sherrill recalled. "I told him that's the last time you'll hear that."

Sherrill was true to his word, leading the Aggies to five consecutive wins over the Longhorns and three Southwest Conference championship before stepping down as head coach after the 1988 season.

"If you don't understand Texas A&M, you'll never win a championship there," Sherrill said Monday while speaking to the Victoria County A&M Club at the Sky Restaurant. "Texas A&M is a unique place. It's a lot more important than just going out to win the game."

Sherrill got an idea of what being an Aggie meant when he helped the students prepare for Bonfire during his first season as head coach.

"We took the time to figure out how you can win at Texas A&M," Sherrill said. "We had to figure out a way to get the pressure off the players. We had to prepare them mentally and our practices were very physical. We had to put them in the right position to win."

Sherrill came up with the idea for the 12th Man kickoff team during his first year in College Station.

He held tryouts for the team during the spring of 1983 and 252 candidates showed up, including two women.

He trimmed the field to 40 and put the 12th Man kickoff team on the field for the first time during the 1983 season.

"They earned their positions," Sherrill said. "They practiced open-field tackling and spent two hours as tackling dummies for the rest of the team. They got a shot and they were going to do whatever it took. They probably did things that you would not do today, but they were ready to do it."

The 12th man kickoff team, which included Yoakum graduate Dennis Mudd, was known for its aggressive style of play and gained national exposure while making three Cotton Bowl appearances.

Sherrill knew he would tell the story of the 12th man kickoff team and he did so in the book, "No Experience Required - Jackie Sherrill and Texas A&M's 12th Man Kickoff Team."

"We wanted to tell the story," Sherrill said. "We were going to tell the truth and not exaggerate. We wanted to bring back all the excitement of when I was at Texas A&M."

Sherrill believes Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman will bring winning football back to Kyle Field once he has time to bring in more talented players.

"Mike is a sound, fundamental coach," Sherrill said. "Rest assured Mike has Texas A&M No. 1 among his priorities."

Sherrill will speak to the Yoakum Lions Club on Tuesday at noon before appearing as the guest speaker for the Yoakum A&M Club's Aggie Muster on Tuesday night at the Yoakum Community Center.

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