Lost amid the avalanche of 79 points - 65 of them belonging to Texas A&M - BYU head coach LaVell Edwards and Texas A&M head coach R.C. Slocum did not meet at midfield for the traditional handshake after Saturday night's Holiday Bowl.
"First time it's ever happened," said Edwards. "I went out there but couldn't find him."It was the same for Slocum, who was delayed making his way across the field by wildly celebrating A&M players who laid prone on the Holiday Bowl logo at midfield and impeded his progress. When he got to the BYU side of the field, Edwards had already gone to the locker room.
It was just as well.
"I may have said something then that I probably wouldn't now," said Edwards 10 minutes later, in the interview room.
At issue was A&M's penchant for scoring points in the second half when the game was seemingly out of hand. The Aggies led 37-7 at the half and went up 51-14 just seconds into the fourth quarter - at a time when Ty Detmer, BYU's Heisman Trophy-winning quarerback was knocked out of the game with shoulder injuries. Still, the Texans didn't let up for much of the fourth quarter. They continued to use All-American tailback Darren Lewis and they executed a variety of passing and gimmick plays that picked up yards in big chunks.
"They're the ones who ran it up," said Edwards, when asked about the Aggies' fourth quarter scoring. "You'll have to ask them about it."
"We have to congratulate A&M," he continued. "They have great team quickness and they played about as well as they've played all year. We've had a number of those (games) over the years - where you do pretty much what you want to do. Tonight obviously wasn't one of them for us. And they were obviously in that vein."
The 65-14 score accounted for the worst loss in BYU football history. The 51-point deficit eclipsed the old record of 50 in a 56-6 loss to Denver in 1950. The loss was the worst-ever administered to an Edwards-coached team. The worst previous defeat occurred in 1973, a 40-point setback to Arizona State, 52-12.
Slocum said that the Aggies didn't want to embarrass BYU. "I wasn't rubbing their noses in anything," he said. "The points we scored were out of respect for their offense. They can put points on the board in a hurry."
There were reports that the Aggies were disturbed by what they perceived as disparaging pregame remarks by BYU players and coaches, and that their intent was to win by as many points as possible.
"It's true, there was a lot of talk about us not being good enough to be here," said Slocum, "We didn't want any doubts that we didn't belong."
The coach said that he told his players at halftime they couldn't let up. "I told them I didn't want a 51-45 game and the whole story in the paper tomorrow would be about the great BYU comeback," he said.
"I've watched them for years," he said of BYU. "I remember that game they had here against SMU several years ago (a 46-45 come-from-behind Holiday Bowl win). I didn't want that to happen."
Texas A&M's players said that a feeling that they were scorned motivated them for the 13th annual Holiday Bowl game.
Linebacker William Thomas, who had six unnassisted tackles, including two quarterback sacks, and an interception, held the Most Valuable Defensive Player trophy under one arm as he said, "We felt disrespected the whole time here. We've been called small and not physical enough. A lof of that kind of stuff kept coming out in the papers. We knew most people were here to watch the Heisman Trophy winner, not the Texas Aggies. We wanted to get noticed."
"We felt like the whole year we haven't got the respect, poll-wise, like we should," said Aggie quarterback Bucky Richardson, who completed 9-of-11 passes for 203 yards and rushed for another 119 yards to win the Most Valuable Offensive Player trophy. "We took offense at that. We wanted to prove we could play with the best. We were hungry and we were ready."
The Aggies came into the game ranked 19th in the UPI poll and unranked in the AP poll. BYU was ranked No. 9 in UPI and No. 13 in AP.
"I know people will talk about us trying to run it up tonight," said Richardson. "But that wasn't the case. We started in August working for this. We played hard. We tried plays in the second half and they just worked. I don't think anyone could blame us for putting points on the board. Besides, we knew their offense could come back in a heartbeat."