Texas has its fair share of great coaches.
Head football coach Mack Brown brought the Longhorns their first national title in more than three decades and, until a brief hiccup in 2010, made them a perennial powerhouse once again. Men’s swimming coach Eddie Reese, who will lead the American swimming team in this summer’s Olympics, has made winning conference titles and top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships. Longtime coaches Connie Clark and John Fields have the softball and men’s golf squads ranked No. 5 and No. 1, respectively.
But Texas head baseball coach Augie Garrido, the winningest skipper in Division I history, is arguably the best coach on the 40 Acres. He’s won two of his five national championships and 686 of his record 1,837 games since taking over at Texas in 1997. Garrido, the only Divison I baseball coach in history to win 600 games and win national titles at two different schools (Cal State Fullerton and Texas), recently received a two-year contract extension through 2015. The 73 year old currently earns a salary of $935,000 and will get an annual raise of $50,000.
After his Longhorns dropped their series opener against Oklahoma State, 3-1, in 11 innings at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Friday, Garrido claimed to be unaware of the extension.
But the way Texas bounced back from that heartbreaking defeat, sweeping the Cowboys in a doubleheader the following day showed why Garrido deserved it.
“Last year’s team and this year’s team are the same way. There’s just something inside of us that just lets us battle. We hate to lose,” said sophomore right fielder Mark Payton, who has reached base in all 33 of the Longhorns’ games this season and who hit a go-ahead home run in Texas’ most recent victory Saturday afternoon. “There’s an instinct inside us that just says to pick it up another notch.”
As Garrido is well aware, the bottom line at Texas is simple — get to Omaha. In more than 40 years as a college baseball head coach, Garrido has taken his team to the College World Series 12 times, including seven times in 14 seasons. The five-time National Coach of the Year is also the only Division I coach to win national titles in Omaha in four different decades. He led Cal State Fullerton to national titles in 1979, 1984 and 1995 while bringing championships to Texas in 2002 and 2005.
Longhorns head men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes hasn’t quite struggled the past few years, but his squads haven’t excelled, either. Barnes signed the nation’s fourth-best recruiting class, according to ESPN, the fourth straight year he brought in a top-five class. Texas will welcome the likes of ESPNU 100 members Cameron Ridley (No. 8 on the ESPNU100), Prince Ibeh (No. 59), Javan Felix (No. 72) and Connor Lammert (No. 93). But, despite the annual haul of top-notch prospects, the Longhorns have just one NCAA Tournament in the last three years to show for it, not winning multiple postseason contests since a trip to the Elite Eight in 2008.
At least Barnes still has his job. Gail Goestenkors became the former Texas head women’s basketball coach after resigning a month ago. Like Barnes, Goestnekors took the Longhorns to the NCAA Tournament each of the five seasons she was in charge, winning only one game at the Big Dance and ending her tenure with four straight first-round exits.
Texas’ chances to return to Omaha aren’t as good as they were when it made a NCAA record 33rd College World Series appearance last season. The Longhorns began this year 2-5, the worst seven-game start in school history since 1944. But they’re 18-8 since then and have won all four of their conference series so far with a three-game set against Kansas on the horizon. Texas has yet to play top-10 teams Baylor and Texas A&M as it saves its best Big 12 opponents for last.
But, as long as Garrido is in the dugout, don’t count the Longhorns out. They’ll always have a chance to get to Omaha.
Printed on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 as: One of best at Texas, Garrido deserving of two-year extension