Mike Sherman unhappy with firing

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Former Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is unhappy with the way he was informed of his firing and doesn't believe his dismissal was justified.

"I don't feel like I deserved to be terminated," Sherman said Friday. "I feel like the program is definitely headed in the right direction and I hope the next coach appreciates the opportunity he's going to get to work with these players."

Sherman was fired Thursday night after the Aggies finished the regular-season 6-6.

He had just pulled into the driveway of a recruit's home Thursday night when athletic director Bill Byrne called to dismiss him. Sherman was disappointed the news leaked to his family and players before he was told.

"I think we're better than that," he said.

Sherman said Byrne gave no explanation for the firing and he didn't ask him to provide one. The coach said that Byrne never told him anything during the season that made him believe he wouldn't return.

Sherman said that he hasn't planned his next move, but that returning to the NFL is a "strong possibility."

Wearing a maroon and white striped tie and standing in front of a backdrop with A&M logos, Sherman choked up and fought back tears several times while reminiscing about his tenure with the Aggies and thanking everyone he worked with.

"I'm disappointed and accountable, but I'm proud of these men and even prouder to be called their coach," Sherman said. "Last night, saying goodbye to them was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do in my life. It was gut-wrenching to say the least."

Sherman, 25-25 in four seasons at A&M, had three years remaining on his contract and the buyout will be about $5.8 million. He was given a one-year extension to his original contract in July, but the school said it was never executed.

However on Friday, Sherman said that he signed it in September while refusing to discuss it further. Sherman believes he is owed $8.8 million, a source told ESPN.com's Joe Schad.

He was hired at the end of the 2007 season three days after Dennis Franchione resigned.

The Aggies, who are leaving the Big 12 for the SEC next season, must now find a replacement to lead the team into their highly competitive new conference.

The school hasn't identified any candidates, but possible replacements could include Houston coach Kevin Sumlin or Louisville coach Charlie Strong. Sumlin, who has led the seventh-ranked Cougars to a 12-0 record, was an assistant at A&M from 2001-02. Strong also spent time with the Aggies, working as a graduate assistant in 1985.

Sherman's best and only winning season came last year, when the Aggies won their last six regular-season games and lost in the Cotton Bowl to finish 9-4.

"We've changed the culture where we are now expected to win every game," Sherman said. "That wasn't the case when we got here. This season we fell victim to our own expectations that we created."

The Aggies entered this season with 18 returning starters, a top-10 ranking and were expected to contend for the Big 12 championship and be a factor in the national title hunt.

Instead they lost early games to Oklahoma State and Arkansas after holding double-digit halftime leads to fall to 2-2.

They won three in a row after their first skid, but a three-game losing streak, which included two overtime losses, ensured the Aggies of a mediocre season. The low point of the season came when Texas A&M ended its more than century-old rivalry with Texas with a 27-25 loss at home on Thanksgiving.

Sherman said he appreciated the support he has received from Texas A&M students throughout this tough season and even on Thursday night when a group gathered outside his home.

"Last night, a group of students were out at my house encouraging me," he said. "I was so moved by that demonstration. It was special to me. That tells me we made the connection we wanted between our football players and our students."

The school hasn't named an interim coach for Texas A&M's bowl game, but is expected to make a decision soon.

Sherman came to Texas A&M after spending two seasons as a Houston Texans assistant coach. A&M was his first college job since he worked as an assistant with the Aggies from 1995-96.

After leaving A&M, he was an assistant for Green Bay and Seattle before becoming the Packers' coach in 2000. Green Bay went 59-43 under Sherman and won three NFC North titles in six seasons, but he was fired after the Packers finished 4-12 in 2005.

Texans' coach Gary Kubiak, a former quarterback at A&M, considers Sherman a good friend and said the two spoke at length Thursday night.

"(I'm) proud of him and the job that he did there," Kubiak said. "As a coach, you cut on the film and you watch his kids play and the level that they were playing out there and the job that he did and was doing and I'm just very, very proud."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.