A Q&A With Jackie Sherrill

Former Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill talks about new MSU head football coach Dan Mullen, MSU athletic director Greg Byrne and offers advice to Coach Mullen and the MSU fans.

What did it mean to you when Dan Mullen introduced you to Bulldog fans at this basketball game and the crowd gave you a standing ovation?
"There are a lot of great feelings because the people are saying that I am one of them. We spent a lot of our life here - thirteen years. And we had some great years here. We had a run in there that was very special.

"Greg (Byrne) has done a great job here. He has hired Dan (Mullen). Dan has really hit the road recruiting. And he has done a very good job in changing some kids minds."

When Dan was asked if he would use you as a resource he said he would. Does it please you to know that he wants to do that?
"It's like that anywhere. When Mack Brown went back to Texas, Mack went back and got Coach Royal when other coaches had kind of pushed him aside. The reason they won and won big was because of Coach Royal's involvement. They went on a campaign to raise 90 million dollars and Coach Royal made four phone calls and raised 60."

So, are you going to make four calls and raise 60 million for Greg and Dan? (laugh)
"(Laugh) I'll do whatever they ask me to. If they ask me to raise money, I know who to go ask."

You appear to be a big fan of Greg Byrne. Am I correct in saying that?
"Yes. Greg has done a very, very good job. What impresses me about Greg is the same thing that impresses me about Dan - he is going to the people. And he is treating every alumni the same. And that is important.

"People who don't have a bunch of money to give, they are as important as the people who give a lot of money because when you get out in the streets and you talk about Mississippi State that helps."

Do you know Dan very well?
"Yes, I followed him when he was at Notre Dame, Bowling Green and at Utah. You see what he has done with the quarterbacks that he has coached and the offense. And you know that he understands offense, not just the spread throwing the football, but offense. He understands the option, understands how to move the football and how to be very physical in moving the football."

Dan Mullen reminds me of you. I say that because, like when you were first hired at State you generated a lot of excitement, you exuded confidence and helped MSU fans believe that they could win in football. He's doing the same things with the MSU fanbase.
"He believes that. Dan is going to win not only because he is going to work hard to win, but because he believes he can win. And he's not going to back down from anybody. And he is going to generate the enthusiasm with the Mississippi State fans and the players."

What advice would you offer him about coaching at Mississippi State?
"He's doing what is most important. He's making sure he touch, taste, smell, feel the alumni. And he's doing the same thing with the high school coaches.

"What I'm impressed with is his recruiting in the state of Mississippi. Out of 25 kids (that he has committed) 19 or 20 are from the state of Mississippi. When you build it that way, that means something when you play on Saturday, especially when you play the other team in the state. The good thing is when you play Mississippi, you have Mississippi kids. They have kids from all over the country and they don't know what it's like when you play in that game."

He's obviously embracing you. Are you going to try to be more involved in the MSU football program?
"I'll do whatever they ask. And I'll do whatever Greg (Byrne) asks. I already come to games when I can, when I'm not doing radio or tv. I do know (Dan) wants me to come down and visit with the staff, visit with him and with the players."

Would your advice to the MSU fans be to be patient with Dan while he builds his program?
"They don't need patience. They've lived through some hard times and they are excited. And they will do whatever it takes to help. It's going to be exciting."

Coach Sherrill, his wife Peggy and two of their grandchildren.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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