3. Jackie Sherrill (1982-1988)
Sherrill won two National Championships as a player under Bear Bryant at Alabama. His coaching career would start immediate after that as an assistant to Bryant in 1966. After stops at Arkansas, Iowa State, and Pittsburgh, Sherrill got his first head coaching position at Washington State in 1976. He returned to Pittsburgh for five seasons as the head coach before moving to Texas in 1982 to coach the Aggies.
His first three seasons at Texas A&M were fairly pedestrian (16-16-1). He would follow those years up with three straight Cotton Bowl appearances from 1985 to 1987, winning two of them. That included the 1986 victory over Auburn in which the Aggies held Heisman trophy winner Bo Jackson out of the end zone on four tries to seal the victory.
Texas A&M was placed under probation in Sherrill’s final season in 1988. Sherrill took full responsibility for the recruiting violations that led the NCAA to the decision and later resigned.
His legacy feels somewhat open-ended. Sherrill’s tenure at Mississippi State was up and down, but he managed to get the Bulldogs ranked in all but three of this 13 season in Starkville. His legacy is somewhat muted by Slocum’s successes immediately after his time.