He is deeply remembered for his legacy as Texas A&M’s most decorated head football coach, and this Thursday he will be featured as Muster’s keynote speaker.
Richard Copeland “R.C.” Slocum will address the largest Muster ceremony in the world as keynote speaker for the 2016 campus ceremony. Slocum’s first campus Muster ceremony was 44 years ago during his first year at Texas A&M.
“I think it is one of the highest honors that an Aggie can have, because Muster is a foundation of what being an Aggie is all about,” Slocum said, reflecting on Muster committee’s decision to invite him as speaker. “Aggies stick together. Aggies care for each other, and Aggies are remembered by their classmates. So to me it’s the ultimate Aggie tradition.”
Slocum’s life story highlights the way sports at Texas A&M, particularly Aggie football, often weaves in and out of the traditions that define the university. Slocum first came to A&M as an assistant coach in 1972 and assumed head coach of the Aggie football team from 1989 to 2002. He was head coach during the 1999 Aggie Bonfire collapse — a campus tragedy that saw the deaths of 12 students and left 27 injured days before A&M played it’s archival, the University of Texas.
Many of Slocum’s players volunteered at the Stack collapse site to move logs and aid search-and-rescue teams. The team would go on to snatch a victory from the Longhorns in an upset win that helped sooth a campus still in shock from Bonfire’s tragedy.
Slocum has more wins than any other A&M head coach and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012. He still lives in College Station and serves as an ambassador for the university and an advisor to the president of Texas A&M.
Bucky Richardson played for Coach Slocum as Aggie quarterback from 1987-1991 and continued to play in the NFL for the Houston Oilers. Richardson said Slocum was more than a football coach to all of his players — he was a leader who wanted the best for all players and was always there for them.
“He’s a mentor. He’s a gentleman. He always has great advice, and he’s always there to help when you need him,” Richardson said. “He is not about a shortcut, and he will do things the right way. As a young guy and young player, that leadership and that example helps me today.”
Jacob Green played at Texas A&M while Slocum was a defensive coach as an All-American defensive end from 1977-1979. He later played 12 years in the National Football League with the Seattle Seahawks. Green said Slocum leads by example and is a role model for everyone.
“There are people that say things, and there are others who say them and do them,” Green said. “His legacy on the field is just like his legacy in life. He is a good person and everybody knows him and sees him and he’s lived a life that I would like to live one day. He has so many people and friends. It’s just awesome to be around a person like him.”
Slocum coached at A&M for a total of 30 years and developed a bond with the Aggie community. Richardson said all of his coaches impacted him in different ways, but Slocum had the most influence in his life.
“He really took time to get to know me and really helped me along not only with football but off the field growing up — he’s like a second father to me,” Richardson said. “He cares about his players and former players, and nobody loves Texas A&M more than R.C. Slocum.”
Madeline Kinnaird, speaker subchair for Aggie Muster Committee and electrical engineering senior, said choosing the Muster speaker is a long, in-depth nomination process.
“Basically there is a nomination that is open to adults and people who send in names,” Kinnaird said. “They have speeches and that they send in with different descriptions about that person and character traits. From there, is it something the committee looks at and does a lot of research on. [Slocum’s] dedication to A&M and his genuine love for Muster is what really spoke to us and is ultimately why he is going to be a great speaker for Muster this year.”
Throughout Slocum’s career, he had multiple offers to coach at other schools and the National Football League, but could not seeing himself leaving the rich culture at A&M.
“I had several offers to coach at other universities,” Slocum said. “In the early 90s, I was coaching here, and I had the chance to go to Arizona Cardinals as the head coach. I was happy and there was no other place I wanted to be.”
R.C. Slocum will always be remembered at A&M for leading A&M’s football team to the best it has ever been, however, Slocum said he wants to be remembered for trying to make A&M a better place.
“I like to think that I tried to make things better, and it wasn’t all about me or my legacy, but it’s about trying to make A&M a better place,” Slocum said. “I feel fortunate to have been here for all these years and it’s where I wanted to be after being here just a little bit — I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”