Patience, not panic the way forward in coaching search

Michael Shapiro

For 20 years, Texas had one of the most stable head coaching positions in the country. When spring rolled around at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, Longhorns fans knew who would preside over the newest iteration of burnt-orange baseball.

Augie Garrido’s philosophies, such as ‘Augie Ball,’ may have been puzzling, but his results were undeniable. Since the beginning of his tenure in 1997, the Longhorns went an astonishing 321–210–1, claiming seven Big 12 titles and two national championships along the way.

But after a middling five year stretch in Austin, Garrido was reassigned from the dugout to the athletics office, transitioning to his role as special assistant to athletic director Mike Perrin.

Longhorn officials hoped for a smooth transition, aiming to replace Garrido with an established head coach as quickly as possible. However, 24 days after his departure from the Texas dugout, the Longhorns are still without a head coach.

The vacancy has stirred anxiety about the program’s future. Presumed to be one of the nation’s premier jobs, why has nobody left their current program and flocked to Austin? Whether it be Virginia’s Brian O’Connor or Oregon State’s Pat Casey, the Longhorn brass has been unable to secure a commitment from a big-name coach.

Over three weeks of false starts and egregious speculation has drawn comparison to Texas’ botched handling of the transition from Mack Brown to Charlie Strong at DKR. But the situations are far from similar. Texas baseball isn’t chasing a white whale like its football cohorts reportedly were with Alabama’s Nick Saban. And moreover, the urgency isn’t as pressing on the diamond as it is on the gridiron.

Garrido’s departure set off a chain reaction throughout the country. With the Texas job now up for grabs, numerous coaches began being linked to the position. And with it came a slew of pay raises. TCU’s Jim Schlossnagle received a pay bump to $1.4 million per year, while Florida’s Kevin O’Sullivan saw an increase in his pay check after being named near the top of Texas’ wish list.

While the dwindling list of candidates may be cause for concern, Texas still has a litany of established options to lead the program. According to the Austin American-Statesman, both Tulane’s David Pierce and Houston’s Todd Whitting have been interviewed by Texas over the past week.

Neither Pierce nor Whitting have national titles under their belts, but their credentials should come without question. Pierce shined for three years at Sam Houston State before bolting to Tulane in 2015, where he led the Green Wave to an NCAA Regional appearance. As for Whitting, he struggled at the outset of his Houston tenure, but rebounded to post a combined record of 127–61 over the past three seasons.

When the dust settles, Pierce or Whitting may not be Texas’ head coach after all. A frenzied search has left many worried about the future of the program, and the apparent lack of cachet that comes with being the Longhorns’ head coach. But those worries are overstated and underreported. Texas will ultimately get its man. It’s only a matter of time.