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CROOME: Last laugh is Sherman's

CROOME: Last laugh is Sherman's

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AUSTIN -- Take a bow, Mike Sherman.

The job is by no means complete, but many of those steps forward you've been talking about have been firmly taken.

First, with a regular-season ending 24-17 victory over Texas, you've climbed above the .500 mark at 19-18 for the first time while at Texas A&M.

But what is most impressive is the way it was done. A&M swept the Big 12's Big 3 -- Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas.

If it sounds impressive, it is, especially considering it's a first for the Aggies. Not even in 1998, when A&M won the Big 12 championship, did it complete that trifecta.

A&M also swept the Texas teams for the first time since the old Southwest Conference days (even if the best two of those programs are as bad as they've been since then). In all, the Aggies won six straight games to finish the season, another first.

Six wins on a trot matches A&M's best run since 2004 and is the school's most in Big 12 play since 1998. The accolades could keep on coming because the Aggies might still share the South Division title, also not done since 1998.

Sherman said recently that NFL teams win titles in December and college squads do it in November. A&M had been notoriously bad in November even when posting winning records overall. The problem was that the Aggies were playing the best the Big 12 had to offer in that grueling month.

Sherman's Aggies didn't use that as an excuse this season. Rather, they recognized the job at hand and went out and finished it.

There were other steps this season, the kind that help with recognition and recruiting.

A&M upended a Top 10 team, two if you stretch and go by polls other than the Associated Press' Top 25. For the first time under Sherman, the Aggies rallied to win a tight game, albeit against a lesser opponent -- remember way back to Florida International. Sherman also added a last-minute victory to his A&M resume, 9-6 over Nebraska.

By hiring defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter, Sherman also helped to bring back the Wrecking Crew.

Most importantly, though, Sherman's Aggies won on national TV.

With the way A&M had looked in front of national audiences before this season, Aggie fans should give a big pat on the back to Sherman -- after most of them apologize for wanting him out after a 3-3 start.

That discussion has now turned to the Capital City, where Texas coach Mack Brown talked candidly about evaluating all of his coaches after a 5-7 season.

Texas was outplayed in every phase of the gmae that didn't include punting Thursday. The Longhorns had no breakaway threat, nothing or nobody to scare the opponent with. On a couple of occasions, Texas runners broke free only to fall over themselves or be caught by more than one Aggie defender from behind.

UT's best offense was when Gilbert was forced to run or improvise, and he's no Colt McCoy. The Aggies had their way with the Longhorns' offensive line.

But there were two truly telling moments Thursday that show where Texas football stands at this moment.

The Longhorns fumbled inside the 10-yard line after the Aggies had given them the ball back trailing 7-0. Instead of taking a 10-0 or 14-0 lead the Longhorns fumbled without being touched, and two plays later nobody touched Cyrus Gray for 84 yards the game had changed.

And after doing everything they could in a last-ditch effort to tie the game late in the fourth quarter, the Longhorns walked off the field as the final 6 seconds ticked off the clock with a handful of Aggies standing over a ball that trickled to a stop in front of a triumphant sideline.

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