Speculation has run rampant the last few days about the fate of Mike Sherman, currently the head coach at Texas A&M, after his team finished an incredibly disappointing 6-6 campaign that saw them lose 5 games in which they led by double digits at some point in the game.
If it was just about results, I think Sherman would have been out earlier this week; Texas A&M is moving to the SEC and can't allow a lame-duck coach to shepherd their transition. The problem for A&M was that Sherman was reportedly owed quite a bit of money due to an extension he signed with the University. His buyout was a prohibitive $8 million, which on top of A&M's exit fees due to the Big XII (which we should know more about in the coming months), meant that A&M literally couldn't afford to fire him. Still, nobody was sure how this situation would play out and announcements have been made repeatedly that he is both fired and not fired. I'll say for my piece that I don't think Sherman deserves to be fired at this point. He has recruited extremely well and several of the things cited most often as reasons for his dismissal can probably be chalked up to bad luck and not necessarily bad coaching.
According to Kirk Bohls of the Austin American Statesman, however, the decision has been made and Sherman will be fired, although he apparently hasn't been told yet. With all the money he makes I'm sure he has some access to popular social media (or at least someone he knows does), so I think he's probably gotten the message.
But I didn't post about this just to say that Sherman has been fired. It's not that important to me and I could have let everyone know via fanshot. I posted about this because the rumor now is that A&M can afford to fire Mike Sherman because, according to Kirk Bohls' source, Sherman never signed his contract extension.
I don't know if this is true or not. Part of me actually hopes it isn't because I don't think Sherman is a bad guy and that kind of boneheaded mistake needs only to happen to bad people. But if this is true ... wow. Sherman doesn't need to be fired by A&M; he needs to be canonized. This is the most Aggie move in the history of Aggie moves. To leave $3-5 million in a buyout on the table because you forgot to sign the extension ... there are just no words for that kind of thing.
If I had to guess, that information leaking is the opening salvo in what will be a settlement battle between Sherman and A&M. This kind of situation isn't as easy as A&M saying "you didn't sign it" and leaving it at that. There are numerous legal theories upon which Sherman could base an argument that he is still entitled to the full sum of the buyout, one of which being that the parties agreed to an oral contract. Oral contracts are enforceable in the state of Texas. What this will probably end up doing is lowering the buyout A&M will have to pay (if indeed they are firing Sherman) from $8 million to somewhere around $5.5-6 million (I'm just guessing on the numbers) and both sides will go on their merry ways.
But still. Millions lost because you never signed the extension? Was the signature line on the second page or something?
UPDATE: I changed the title of this post because it seemed needlessly insulting to Sherman, who apparently has a lot more class in handling this situation than A&M does. Matt Davis, A&M's second-best recruit this year, just tweeted that Sherman (who was in Houston today for in-home visits with Davis and others) told him:
"Matt, A&M is a great place and I still think you should go there and do great things."
That's a total class move knowing that he could have said anything he wanted to Davis at that point and nobody blamed him for it.