MSU’s Sherrill faces NCAA again

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 1, 2002

BNI Newswire

BIRMINGHAM – Mississippi State football coach Jackie Sherrill said Thursday coaching has changed over the years.

The amount of scrutiny teams and coaches get is one of those things.

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With a potential NCAA investigation and letter of inquiry likely to be delivered to the Bulldog administration in the near future, Sherrill indicated there is little he or his staff can do at this point.

"Look, I’m not going to jump off a 50-foot cliff because someone is coming in to talk to our players," Sherrill explained. "If something is wrong, we will fix it. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know how I have conducted myself."

With the NCAA having already slammed the University of Alabama and University of Kentucky with sanctions due to rules violations, and currently looking into some situations at the University of Tennessee, Mississippi State is the latest SEC school to face the music, so to speak.

Sherrill remains the most tenured head coach in the league now that Steve Spurrier is gone. He has faced his share of adversity along the way, including back wash from one incident several years ago where he castrated a live bull at an open practice prior to a big game. Not even that could get Sherrill fired. He remains the most popular coach in MSU history as well as the most successful. He has 175 wins as a head coach, 70 of which have come at State.

Yet, as the NCAA begins to take a look at the MSU program, the coach said he can’t help but understand just how much coaching has changed over the years and how much his and everyone else’s job is on the line every day.

"In every profession the word is survival," he said. "We are all trying to survive regardless. You can’t look down the road in this profession. I made my decision that this is my last rodeo regardless. Coaches are hired to win football games. Don’t try to find excuses to fire me, just tell me I didn’t win enough and I’ll be on my way. It’s all about performance."

Rumors have continued to spread of schools reporting other schools and pushing for the investigation of recruiting practices at certain institutions. Sherrill called the practice mud-slinging and indicated he was tired of it and that mud-slinging was what led to the demise of the Southwest Conference.

"It killed that conference," Sherrill added. "But, as bad as it is, I believe it will come under control. Commissioner (Mike) Slive and Jim McCullough will get it under control and there will be a proper procedure put into place to help it. Those who cross the line and don’t follow procedure will also be reprimanded."

While so many schools have been hit with sanctions, Sherrill said he doesn’t believe NCAA policing will effect the level of play in the league or of his team.

"This is a great, great conference," Sherrill said. "The level of competition will never change. If there is an issue here, we will deal with it. Our players aren’t thinking about it and are not concerned with it. Ya’ll (the media) are the only ones really concerned with this right now."

The coach also added that every institution has small things which come up in the course of the year which are secondary violations in nature. He said he and his staff do a better job than anyone reporting errors they might make.