No mortal soul ever accused Mr. Jack Sherrill of being unknowledgeable. Plus, there are indications Jackie's knowledge extends beyond his unquestioned ability to organize a winning college football program.
One recollection is a dinner conversation turning toward a recent airliner crash. The cause had been listed as "wind shear."
"That's a new one on me," said ole buster here.
"New? Certainly it's not new!" Sherrill said, just a bit scornfully. The coach was a licensed pilot who did much of his own flying on Texas A&M recruiting trips. "Wind shear is old stuff. That's one of the first things you learn. Apparently, you haven't done much flying. Anybody not familiar with wind shear couldn't have done very much flying!"
Properly rebuked, I made a silent memo to dig out my old Navy flight log when I got home and see if it could be a forgery.
Another time, Sherrill was host on a radio show and a caller commented on A&M football players charged with using unauthorized credit cards to amass huge telephone bills. How could Sherrill explain felonies committed under his own beak?
Sherrill went after into the caller like a pit bull. "What do you mean, felonies?" he snapped. "As of July 10 last year, the courts reclassified that as a misdemeanor! If you don't know the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor, you have no business even asking a question. You better learn something about what you're talking about!"
Adroitly, Sherrill had switched the point of attack from the Aggies players to the caller himself. Never did answer the question, of course. That took a bit of skill.
Then there were times during Sherrill's stay at College Station when he professed great knowledge of sports journalism and took it upon himself to deliver frequent admonishments. Some of us, perhaps stubbornly, neglected to take notes.
Take the George Smith parable. Smith, remember, was the fullback dropout who told reporters he was paid hush money by Sherrill agents after threatening to fink to the NCAA about Aggies payoffs. Sherrill claimed he was only helping out a former player in times of financial need.
Jackie had Smith flown to College Station, presented him, all spruced up and well-rehearsed, at a weekend news conference. Smith denied his original story, claiming misquote, misunderstanding, out of context, all the old bromides. Then Smith flew back to Atlanta where he promptly denied his denial. Meanwhile, Sherrill suspended himself for a game, to prove his honest intent.
The scenario was so ludicrous the Marx brothers would have sniffed and turned away. The only thing it lacked was to have Jackie in baggy pants and a red rubber nose, whacking Smith over the head with a pig bladder.
Therefore, you may question Sherrill's forecast of the Southwest Conference he left rather unceremoniously three years ago. Sherrill's Mississippi State meets Texas this weekend.
Firstly, he claims Texas and A&M had agreed to jump to the SEC before political pressures took over. "Right now, academically, Texas will probably go to the Pac-10," Sherrill is quoted in the new (and excellent) book "Bleeding Orange" by Austin, Texas, authors Kirk Bohls and John Maher.
"Reason I say that, is Texas now feels they can dominate A&M. They crushed A&M in basketball and baseball and now football has come back. They'll both leave the conference at the same time, but A&M will go to the SEC and Texas will go to the Pac-10. I think it will come to a head in 1992 because that is the year the SEC will start its playoff. That's when it will all unravel because everyone will see the interest that a playoff can generate."
Sherrill's theory may seem logical until you remember the George Smith plot and subsequent explanation, which indicated some that Jackie's grasp of high drama ends somewhere short of "The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore."