Garrido leaves behind lasting legacy

Michael Shapiro

Augie Garrido did it his way. For 20 years as Texas’ head coach, Garrido served as the Longhorns’ zen master, analytics guru and raconteur-in-chief, leaving an unmistakable mark on the program.

His role as head coach ended on Monday, but his time as a Longhorn will not. Instead of leaving Austin, Garrido will transfer from the dugout to the athletics office, accepting a role as special assistant to men’s athletics director Mike Perrin.

“I owe everyone at The University of Texas a million heartfelt thank you’s,” Garrido said in a statement. “I came here to serve and I am so proud to be able to continue to serve the University in my new role as special assistant to Mike Perrin.”

Garrido was known for his philosophical musings as much as his victories, viewing the game of baseball as both his life’s passion and, as he called it, “a cruel mistress.” His unique bunt-first-ask-questions-later strategy gave way to the term Augie Ball, stirring as much debate amongst the Longhorns’ faithful as Mack Brown’s offensive system or Rick Barnes’ recruiting.

The laundry list of accomplishments Garrido racked up in his 48-year career is staggering. Prior to his time at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, he was the head coach at Cal State Fullerton, where he won three national titles.

Garrido arrived in Austin as one of the most accomplished head coaches in collegiate history, and only added to his legend from there. In 20 seasons with the Longhorns, Garrido won over 300 games, seven Big 12 titles and two national championships in 2002 and 2005. Upon his reassignment on Monday, Garrido held the mantle of college baseball’s all-time wins leader at 1,975 victories.

“I have deep appreciation, admiration and gratitude for all that he has accomplished in his 20 years leading our baseball program,” athletics director Mike Perrin said. “From the two national championships he brought to Texas, to the many thrilling College World Series performances, Big 12 titles and becoming the all-time winningest coach in college baseball history, he has a vast list of success stories, but none greater than the positive impact he has made on the countless numbers of student-athletes he has coached.”

However, Garrido failed to sustain his long-lasting success over the past five years. Aside from a College World Series appearance in 2014 — in which Texas fell to Vanderbilt in the semifinals — the burnt orange underachieved, failing to dominate the collegiate baseball landscape as it once had. From 2012 through 2016, the Longhorns went a measly 55–65 in Big 12 play.

This past season was perhaps the most frustrating year of Garrido’s tenure in Austin. The few bright spots were three wins and a semifinal appearance in the Big 12 tournament — including a nine-run comeback and a walk-off home run — but the season was marred by blown leads, untimely errors and a lack of clutch hitting. The Longhorns ended the year at 25–32, marking the most losses in program history. Garrido rode the hot seat throughout the year, but wished to go out on his terms.

“If I’m not back, it’s because I couldn’t control the decision that was made,” Garrido said. “But trails end, baby. They all end.”

But with one year left on a contract he desperately wished to complete, Garrido was forced to relinquish his duties as Texas’ head coach. The Longhorn athletics department bought out his contract for a reported $300,000 and will begin a nationwide search to fill one of the nation’s premier coaching vacancies.

Garrido’s presence will be felt throughout the program despite his departure from the dugout. Upon his reassignment, streams of tweets came in from current and former players, lamenting his legendary career.

“It was an honor, Coach Garrido,” former Texas pitcher Parker French tweeted. “Thank you for all you did for me but more importantly, all you did for this great university. Hook ‘Em"

Many will measure Garrido’s tenure by the number of wins he accumulated or the national titles he amassed, but those will be beside the point. Augie Garrido’s career in Austin shouldn’t be defined by the scoreboard, but by all he did for his players and the game of baseball. It wasn’t always perfect, but Augie Garrido did it his way, the only way he knew how.