With a construction management degree in hand, Shawn Slocum parted ways with his legendary football coaching father, R.C. Slocum.
But not for long.
Shawn Slocum was just a few months into his new life and already had earned a promotion. Nonetheless, he called his dad to set up a face-to-face meeting.
"I couldn't imagine why he just didn't talk to me on the phone," R.C. Slocum, the winningest coach in Texas A&M history, told Packer Report on Wednesday morning. "So, he came by and said, ‘You know, I can do this and make a good living, but what I really want to do is coach football.' I said, ‘You've got be kidding me!'"
He wasn't kidding.
Shawn Slocum, who has coached special teams for almost all of his 20 years in the business, reportedly has been promoted to special teams coordinator by the Green Bay Packers. R.C. Slocum had heard the reports but nothing official; the hiring has not been announced by the team.
Shawn Slocum spent the previous three seasons working under Mike Stock, who retired on Jan. 2 after it became clear he wouldn't be retained after several special teams breakdowns played a role in the Packers' 6-10 season.
Slocum comes to the job well-prepared. He played linebacker for his famous father at Texas A&M, then was a volunteer assistant for the Aggies in 1989. In 1990, he joined Packers coach Mike McCarthy as a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh.
From there, he spent 1991 through 1997 back at Texas A&M, coaching the special teams all seven seasons while assisting with the tight ends for three seasons and linebackers for four. Then, it was off to USC, where he was special teams/linebackers coach, then back to Texas A&M as special teams/secondary coach from 2000 through 2002.
After a two-year hiatus to start a construction business, Slocum was an assistant head coach/linebackers coach at Mississippi in 2005 before coming to Green Bay in 2006 to learn under Stock.
One reason for Shawn Slocum's focus on special teams was his dad's focus on defense. Teams with strong defenses need to play strong special teams to succeed, since the field position that comes with a strong punter and strong coverage teams is so important.
"A lot of guys don't want to fool with it, but he studied it for years, would visit people in the offseason about special teams," R.C. Slocum said. "It's really something he's always had a knack for and a real interest in."
Slocum recalled the 1998 Big 12 championship game, when the Aggies beat Kansas State 36-33 in overtime. A matchup inside the matchup was Kansas State's Darren Sproles, the nation's leading punt returner, against Texas A&M's Shane Lechler, the nation's top punter. Behind Lechler's directional punting, Sproles didn't have a single punt return yard.
Shawn Slocum's interest in coaching was a natural. R.C. Slocum coached major-college football for 33 seasons, and Shawn watched a lot of games from the sideline.
"He grew up around coaching his whole childhood," R.C. Slocum said. "He was always in the backseat of the car with me with coaches in the front talking ball. Our summer vacations, we'd normally go see a coach somewhere and visit some along the way. So, he knows coaches everywhere and he's been around a lot of football."
The Packers' special teams fell from one of the best in the NFL in 2007 to one of the worst in 2008. The Packers ranked last in the league in kickoff returns, 24th in net punting and 19th in kickoff coverage. There were key breakdowns leading to a few of the Packers' narrow defeats, including long kickoff returns allowed against Atlanta and Carolina, and a long punt return, turnover and blocked field goal against Chicago.
Shawn Slocum won't rest until the Packers' special teams are an asset again.
"He's high energy. He runs at a high speed all the time," his dad said. "He's an up-early, stay-late kind of guy. That's always made me proud. He's not looking at the clock at 4:45 and wondering when he can go home. I've seen some of those guys over the years. They didn't last really long, the ones who are worried about how long they're going to work. The good ones are enjoying every minute of it and it's not like work to them, so they don't ever worry about how much time they're spending."
Shawn Slocum fits the mold of the type of high-character person McCarthy seeks in his coaches and players. That, too is a source of pride for his legendary father.
"He's been taught a lot about how organizations work and about being loyal and being respectful for the guy you work for," R.C. Slocum said. "Being someone who's helping things work and not being part of the problem. Over the years, I've spent a lot of time saying, ‘Are you part of the solution or are you part of the problem?' To players and to coaches. So, he's had a lot of training about how that all should work and the obligation an assistant coach has to support the head coach and be loyal to him and the team."
Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Slocums enjoy special relationship
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