Rider standout Ramon Flanigan reflects on Southwest Conference shocker

The day SMU ended Texas A&M's national title hopes

DALLAS - During the 1994 season, Rider standout Ramon Flanigan was a red-shirt sophomore at Southern Methodist University.

It was during that year, they upset 7th ranked Texas A&M in the 8th game of the season. A 21-21 tie, putting the only blemish on the Aggies' record.

Flanigan was the starting quarterback.

"You know during that time, where the program was we were heavy underdogs in every game we played," Flanigan said. "So, our weekly approach was literally to shock the world. We had kind of gotten it down to a science because we had done it for so long. A&M had been struggling because they were on probation that year, so they were a little bit down. They were a very talented team, probably 7 or 8 first round draft picks on that team, but we had a lot of talent on our team as well and had been playing well at points throughout the season." 

Although Flanigan would go on to lead the Southwest Conference in total offense, the Mustangs went into the game 1-7, only beating New Mexico by 3 points earlier in the season.

"Well because at the time, you got to understand, everyone was light years ahead of us, as far as talent level. Those guys we had played, we were in the Southwest Conference, we played them every year. So, we were familiar with them. We played guys, Zach Thomas was at Texas Tech. There were guys that we played every Saturday, that were marquee guys, that we watched on Sports Center the week before we'd play them. And so there was no intimidation factor for any of our players during that time." 

"Our head coach Tom Rossley, who was a super super motivator made us believe every week that we could beat whoever we were playing and there's no reason why we should think that based on our talent level compared to other people's talent level and coach had us ready to play." 

Facing an A&M defense often called the "wrecking crew", he said they had to come out of the gate scoring fast.

"We hit Mick, who was our head coach's son, for about a 45 yard pass against an all out blitz. And that gave our entire football team a lot of confidence going throughout the second half." 

That game would end in a tie.

"That's a sore subject, I tell this story about once every two weeks. We had a two minute drive to end the game, got down to field goal range." 

"Everybody was happy with a tie, because it was A&M. But, based on how well we had played, we played enough to win. And to come down to a field goal, that we felt that we had a good chance to make, and to miss that field goal was very very disheartening at the end of a very positive day for this program." 

It's an ending that still haunts Flanigan.

"If you beat Texas A&M and they are one of the top 15 teams in the country, which they were at the time, as a quarterback you go down and that puts you in legendary status. The tie, everybody talks about the tie and it was great, but we played well enough to win. You don't get that many opportunities on a Saturday to play and compete with a top 20 team, a top 15 team like that and have a chance to win and have it slip away. Those are things that you can never undue as you go on looking back over your career." 

Flanigan graduated from SMU as the school's all-time leader in total offense, being the only player in Mustang history to pass for more than 5,500 yards and rush for at least 1,500, and he guided SMU to its first winning season in 11 years during the '97 season.

After a 16 year coaching career, Flanigan has made his way back to SMU, serving as the Director of External Affairs for the university he says he will forever call home.

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