- Ivan Maisel, ESPN Senior Writer
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Texas A&M enjoyed its longest reign among the college football elite in the 1990s, thanks to head coach R.C. Slocum. In his 14 seasons (1989-2002) as head coach, Slocum went 123-47-2 (.721), won four conference titles and a division title, and proved that nice guys can finish first.
Slocum treated everyone as his friend, and once they got to know him, they usually stayed that way. The former McNeese State tight end served for seven years as the defensive coordinator to his predecessor, Jackie Sherrill. Slocum moved into the head coaching job in 1989.
Slocum’s defenses, known annually as The Wrecking Crew, used speed, especially at linebacker, to shut down the Southwest Conference. The Aggies dominated the SWC as it withered away, winning 26 consecutive conference games from 1991-94. When the eight SWC schools helped form the Big 12 in 1996, the Aggies picked up where they left off, winning the South Division in 1997-98.
In the 1998 Big 12 Championship Game, No. 3 Kansas State, aware that No. 2 UCLA had lost earlier in the afternoon, needed only to hang onto a 27-12 fourth-quarter lead to secure a berth in the first BCS Championship Game. But the Aggies came back to win the game, 36-33, in double overtime.
As Texas and Oklahoma began to rule the Big 12 South under Mack Brown and Bob Stoops, respectively, Slocum bore the brunt of alumni dissatisfaction. Texas A&M fired him in 2002. Slocum, bitterly disappointed, held his tongue well enough to become a fundraiser and goodwill ambassador for the university.
When his successors, Dennis Franchione and Mike Sherman, failed to rise above mediocrity, Aggie fans looked at Slocum in a more favorable light. With the hiring of head coach Kevin Sumlin, a former Slocum assistant, Slocum is enjoying a renewed appreciation among Aggies for his achievements.
9hDavid Ching and Edward Aschoff