Start of a new era

From a university that likes to hold on to its traditions, I wasn’t sure that the powers-that-be at Texas A&M had it in them to do what was probably necessary, if not popular. But the rumors are finally true: A&M fired longtime head coach R.C. Slocum on Monday.

Slocum leaves A&M with a 123-47-2 overall record. Since joining the Big 12 in ’96, A&M under Slocum was 55-32 (34-22 in conference play)—but if you toss out the ’98 season (an aberration?), the record falls to 44-29, including a very mediocre 27-21 conference record. In fact, of those 123 wins, 34 of them—more than a quarter of the total—came against SWC doormats Rice, SMU, and TCU and SWC/Big 12 doormat Baylor. But over the same time span, he was only 24-27 against Colorado, Kansas State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech—A&M’s “peers” in conference play—including a 4-12 mark against Texas and Tech over the past 8 seasons.

His supporters will point to the 11 postseason bowl games that A&M has been to under Slocum. But the Aggies won only 3 of those games.

His supporters will point to the clean program that he ran and the way he looked after his players on and off the field. And frankly, I have very little to rebut that, other than to point out that he was sometimes quick to blame these same kids for a loss—as the head coach, he should have known that the buck starts and stops with him, but I am hard pressed to ever recall him taking the blame for a loss.

In this day and age, I question whether any other “big time” university would have given a head coach this much time to prove (re-prove?) his mettle. And I guarantee you that A&M showed more patience and loyalty towards Slocum than he did towards his annual carousel of assistant coaches.

For the record, R.C. Slocum was a fine representative of Texas A&M. He was a great defensive coach and a great recruiter. But in the end, he simply wasn’t a great head coach—a good one, but not a great one. (And most certainly not a “legendary” one, as at least one media outlet has described him. Well-respected? Yes. Highly thought of? Yup. Legendary? Puh-leeze. As soon as he’s even thought of being mentioned in the same breath as the Bear Bryants of the world, then maybe we can even begin to think about using that word.)