"I have been coaching since 1966. I started coaching as a graduate assistant to pay my way through graduate school. That has been 38 seasons ago. During that time, I developed a philosophy where I have always put the players first and treated the players like a family to the point of always protecting the players. I have been the lightning rod if they needed it.
"Sometimes in life we do things, not necessarily things we want to do, but we do them because it is the right thing to do. I believe what I have done at this time was the right thing at the right time. This gives Dr. Lee and Larry (Templeton) time to put in place a plan to have a coach here who can take over the second the last game is over with.
"I came here 13 years ago and said at the first press conference that Mississippi State can win, deserves to win and certainly will win. I believe that now more than ever before.
"I want to thank Larry for giving me this opportunity 13 years ago. I will always be a Bulldog. I have made sure that my grandson will also be one. And hopefully I get to add some more grand kids and kind of get them here also.
"Mississippi State is a place with a lot of special people. Some of the recruits that have committed here have called and said they will be at State because that is the place they want to be.
"I'll be one of the guys in the stands. I'll have to figure out how to sneak a cowbell in. I've never done that before, but I'm going to have to find a way to do it.
"I have received emails from former players and fans, phone calls and I've even had an email from China.
"This is not about Jackie Sherrill but Mississippi State. No one in this room regrets more than I the last two years. I think we have recruited the right players to change this. The young kids, the freshmen and sophomores, will win a lot of games. They will have a chance to compete for the championships."
Q and A with Coach Sherrill:
When did you know it was time to retire?
"Last week when I told Larry it is time. I asked him to kind of work out a time frame where we could do this."
What did you say to your young kids?
"Most of the things that I have said are very private, but the most important thing is they chose to come here because it was Mississippi State. They will do very well. When you do things because you want to, you usually succeed."
When did you tell your players and coaches of your decision?
"I told them Friday afternoon. I told the coaches right before the players."
What was the reaction of the players?
"That is private but they can speak for themselves."
Why do you think retiring is the right thing for you to do at this time?
"I can't tell you because it is just a feeling you have and when you have that feeling, then you know it is time to go."
Will you be involved in the hiring of the new coach?
"No, I won't other than if I am asked any questions. I will be glad to sit down and talk, then. I can say this unequivocally, the next coach has to be someone Dr. Lee and Larry wants to hire."
If a coaching candidate came to you and asked you the question why would he want to coach at Mississippi State, what would you tell him?
"The first thing is it is a very special place. The second thing is it is a place where you can win. And three, it is a place where you can get a lot of gratification. The biggest thing is you are not supposed to do anything, you are not supposed to do things that we have done here."
Do you ever see a time where you might come back to coaching?
"No, I won't coach. This is my last rodeo."
Is going into pro football a possibility for you?
"I can't say right now because right now my energy is with the players 24x7. When the season is over with I am going to spend some long overdue time (with my family)."
What will your current assistant coaches status be once you retire?
"That is something that has to be decided by whoever they hire. The coaches are not new coaches. They have been in the profession for a long time. This is a decision that we all understand."
Will you stay in Starkville?
"Yes, at this time. I know we won't go far from our grandson (in Memphis)."
Do you feel you relate to your players as well as you did when you were younger?
"Because I am more adapt at doing it. Until you have lived the life they have lived, it is difficult to relate to them. Most of the athletes that we have today come from a certain setting and that is where I was raised, so that gave me the ability to relate to them. I can relate to kids a lot better than I can to older people."
Did the NCAA investigation have anything to do with your NCAA retirement?
"No, absolutely not. They can't do anything to me that they haven't done before."
You mentioned you are going to write a book some day. When will you write that book?
"It has been in the works. I have the editing rights, but I have been overridden because Peggy will be putting the final touches to it."
You have been a controversial coach throughout your career. Will your book also be controversial?
"Probably, moreso. Like I said before, I am not politically correct. I am going to say and do things that are correct. Things in the book will be true facts and correct."
What would you say you like the most about coaching and the thing you like the least?
"The players are the thing I like the most. Having players come back from 10, 15 and 20 years ago and say things to you. Some of the ones that you didn't think really liked you are the ones that say the most flattering things to you.
"The least thing I like about college athletics is how it is managed and how it is being perceived. That is another story for another day. You play the game for the players and they should be the most intricate part of the overall process. Somehow, we have lost that."
Looking back over your career here, what is the one thing you are most proud of? "There have been many wins, but probably the biggest one was when we beat Alabama here, because it gave the realistic feeling that you could taste, touch, feel what it was like to beat Alabama and you could compete (with them)."
What about any regrets?
"I really don't have any. My tenure here has been very, very good."
What would you like to say to the fans of Mississippi State?
"I emailed most of them. I wanted to say the same things to them that I said to the players; it wasn't an easy decision to make but it was the right decision at the right time."
Will you miss (the media)?
"You guys will probably miss me more than I miss you."
At this time, Coach Sherrill thanked the media for attending and left to a standing ovation by the fans who were in attendance.
Pictures from the press conference.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.