Texas A&M copes with upset loss

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 | 1:02 a.m. CDT; updated 7:25 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman

It's safe to say the honeymoon is over in College Station.

After an 18-14 loss Saturday to Arkansas State, a team that won just three games in the Sun Belt Conference a year ago, first-year Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman spent most of Monday's Big 12 coaches teleconference deflecting criticism.

"I wasn't disappointed with our effort, I was just disappointed with our result," Sherman said. "It was a great night, and a great crowd here. I wanted to give them a chance to see us perform well and win a football game, and we didn't do that."

The Aggies played to a 14-3 halftime lead, but the former NFL coach's team failed to score in the game's final 30 minutes.

"If we had won the ball game and gotten those two field goals we missed, we still would have been the same football team," Sherman said. "The fact that we lost the game doesn't mean the problems are any bigger or any smaller. You just didn't win."

Sherman also insisted to anyone who would listen that the sky was not, in fact, falling on Aggieland.

"In order to get things straightened out, you have to be totally appreciative of the truth," Sherman said. "What went well? What didn't go well? How do we fix it? Instead of being defensive, you have to be totally accountable."

Texas A&M travels Saturday to Albuquerque, N.M., to face another non-BCS opponent in New Mexico, a team coming off a nine-win season in which they captured the first bowl win for the program since 1961.

"They're transitioning into what we're trying to do here, and we'll be challenged a little bit," Sherman said.

MISSOURI SETTING THE PACE: After a 12-win season and a New Year's Day bowl win after decades of mediocrity, Missouri seems to be the new gold standard for turning a program around. Iowa State coach Gene Chizik and Colorado coach Dan Hawkins both cited Missouri and Kansas as examples of programs they look up to and see as examples of what they can accomplish given enough time. One member of the press also asked if Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman used both schools as examples to fans that winning programs can't be built in six months. Sherman, however, deflected the question and asserted that fans were entitled to winning as soon as possible, and that it was up to his staff to provide that.

TEXAS KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY: Mack Brown's Texas squad travels to El Paso on Saturday to face UTEP. Texas is the only other school in the conference besides Missouri that plans to play an in-state rival this weekend. Granted, Texas' matchup offers more than Missouri's, but Brown says if he's going to play a game his team should win, he prefers to keep it inside the state lines.

"We played TCU last year in a throwback to the old Southwest Conference," Brown said. "We've played Houston, we play Rice every year, and I think our group thought, ‘If you're going to give money to a school, you might as well keep it in-state.'"

Brown said the game, broadcast on ESPN2, is a sellout and that UTEP officials were calling it "the most important game in the history of their school."

PELINI NOT RUSHING BLACKSHIRTS: Earlier in the fall, first-year Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini refused to hand out the black jerseys the Nebraska "Blackshirts" defense draws its name from. Despite his team's 47-24 win over Western Michigan on Saturday, Pelini isn't ready to lift the ban just yet.

"We'll see," Pelini said, of plans to return the jerseys. "You wait until those are earned, and we haven't been together long enough for that to happen."


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