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Toledo Meets Ex-Boss at Cotton Bowl

December 11, 1997

DALLAS (AP) _ UCLA coach Bob Toledo bears no ill will against Texas A&M and R.C. Slocum even though he was fired as offensive coordinator there in 1993.

``The Cotton Bowl is not going to be a Bob Toledo versus R.C. Slocum thing,″ Toledo said on Thursday. ``R.C. did what he had to do and I moved on to where I am today. There is no animosity toward A&M. I still have a lot of good friends there. It’s just a lot of water under the bridge.″

Alumni pressure came down on Slocum after A&M had lost two consecutive Cotton Bowl games to Florida State and Notre Dame without scoring a touchdown.

``I had ambitions for us to be better (offensively),″ Slocum said. ``Bob did a good job and we never had an argument. I thought we would be better off going in a different direction. I thought we needed to turn over stones. It was not a good move on my part.″

Slocum said the Aggies ``haven’t been as good″ offensively since Toledo left.

``I’ve told Bob if I had it to do over again I wouldn’t make that move,″ Slocum said. ``Neither one of us want it to be an issue for this game.″

No. 5 ranked UCLA, winners of nine consecutive games after close losses to Washington State and Tennessee to start the season, will play the No. 20 ranked Aggies (9-3), who won the Big 12 South division but lost 54-15 to Nebraska last week in the title game.

``I think a strong argument can be made that UCLA is the best team in the country,″ Slocum said. ``They are every bit as potent as Nebraska.″

Toledo said that although the Bruins weren’t picked for an Alliance bowl his team was excited about coming to Dallas.

``I’ve been to the Cotton Bowl with Texas A&M and I’ve told the team what great hospitality they have there,″ Toledo said. ``It should be a great game. A&M has a great tradition, a great legacy.″

The two schools haven’t played each other in 42 years. UCLA beat A&M 21-0 in 1955 after losing two previous games against the Aggies 7-0 and 21-14.

Toledo has guided UCLA to its highest ranking since 1988.

``UCLA hasn’t won nine games in a row since 1973,″ Toledo said. ``We’re proud of that. We were just a couple of plays away from being undefeated.″

Slocum said the Aggies are glad they have another game left after the Nebraska loss, even if it’s against a tough UCLA team.

``They may be the hottest team going right now,″ Slocum said. ``It will give our team a chance to bounce back. I told the team not to feel bad about Nebraska. They did the same thing to Florida in the Fiesta Bowl. Nebraska was on a mission against us.″

The game, sponsored by Southwestern Bell, is set for 12:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day with CBS doing the television.

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