Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Raggedy Aggies Slocum Admits 0-2 A&m Has a Crisis of Confidence

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Raggedy Aggies Slocum Admits 0-2 A&m Has a Crisis of Confidence

Article excerpt

From 1991 to 1995, only mutant, alien or otherwise unexplainable Nebraska won more college football games than Texas A&M. But after the Aggies' startling 28-22 loss Saturday at Southwestern Louisiana, they are 0-2, and coach R.C. Slocum is as vexed as he is perplexed.

"I would say (confidence) is very low," said Slocum, who never had lost a season opener in his previous seven seasons. He added, "You can't have a lot of confidence, and a lot of this game is confidence, really."

Although Slocum has been bunker-bound preparing for the Aggies' next game, against North Texas, he's certain that a crisis of confidence is epidemic around College Station. People are saying, he knows, "I'd have never believed it." "And I would be one of those people," he added in Monday's weekly Big 12 Conference media briefing. Eight turnovers and 15 penalties conspired to doom A&M against the Ragin' Cajuns, and some have suggested that several player suspensions last week may have been part of the sabotage - a distraction. Slocum thought not, though, and added, "If it did, so be it." Every year, Slocum knows, football teams are fragile as they try to develop their personality. So he has consoled himself that his roster is among the youngest in the Big 12 and can improve exponentially as the season progresses. "It's important that I stay standing in the boat right now and give good leadership," he said. Part of that is to offer perspective, which came in cruel fashion to the A&M program late last week. The wife of athletic administrator Rick Rigsby died after a battle with cancer. "Now that's really a problem, right there, and I told our team that Saturday night after the game," Slocum said. After playing North Texas at home, the Aggies entertain 12th-ranked Colorado. "A win over Colorado will make the Aggies forget" the first two games, Colorado coach Rick Neuheisel said, "or at least be less bitter about the way it started. It's a major challenge for us, but we hope it'll be a major challenge for them, too." Dirty Dozen: For all the gushing and preening about the inaugural Big 12 season, the conference is off to a lumbering 12-7 start in nonconference play. That includes three losses to the less-than-dreaded Western Athletic Conference. "Any time you're billed as a superconference, you're in for a downfall," said Neuheisel, whose then-No. 5 Buffaloes lost 20-13 to Michigan on Saturday. "I don't know that there is a superconference." With two-time defending national champion Nebraska, three other top 10 finishers a year ago and coming off a 6-1 record in bowls, there seemed ample reason to suggest the conference would be a juggernaut. But Neuheisel said, "To (say that) in the preseason is ridiculous, because everybody's teams are different" than in 1995. But other conference coaches were more inclined to defend its honor. …

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