Augie Garrido may be the winningest coach in college baseball history, but his days at the University of Texas are numbered.
Garrido’s Texas teams have won two national championships (2002 and 2005) and finished as national runners-up twice (2003 and 2009). As a result, he’s become the highest paid coach in college baseball, and naturally has been held to higher and higher standards after each season. That will come back to bite him if the Longhorns do indeed miss the NCAA Tournament for the third time in five years.
Former colleagues, Mack Brown and Rick Barnes, had similar tenures to Garrido, but never missed the postseason more than once during their tenures in Austin. Rick Barnes was fired after the most recent 20-14 season, in which UT was once ranked in the top-10. Meanwhile, Mack Brown ended his 3 year run with records of 8-5, 9-4 and 8-5. Not horrible, but certainly not up to Texas standards. Ironically, Barnes’ and Brown’s teams advanced to the postseason in their final season as coach, but it wasn’t enough for Patterson to keep them on board.
2015 was supposed to be the season that Garrido returned his team to the promise land. The Longhorns surprised the college baseball world in 2014 by advancing to their first College World Series since 2011. Last year’s team won 46 games behind a strong pitching rotation that consisted of six pitchers with an ERA below 2.00 and another four below 3.00. That’s why the Longhorns finished the season a win away from the Best-of-Three series that determined the National Champion.
As for this season, expectations were high in Austin, but the season quickly turned sour. Texas is currently 24-24 overall, and 9-12 in Big 12 play.
The 2014 small ball approach hasn’t worked this season because the numbers have spiked in the earned runs category. Junior Travis Duke is one of eight pitchers with an ERA higher than 3.00 this season. His 3.54 ERA is a far cry from last season’s team-best 0.29 ERA. The Longhorns have scored 226 runs and allowed 186 earned runs in 48 games this season, compared to 299 runs scored and 187 earned runs in 67 games last season.
Garrido cannot buy much time with a 24-24 team that was expected to make another deep run. In order for Garrido to save his job, I believe he needs wins in the final four regular season games, plus a conference championship at the Big 12 Tournament. His team missed an opportunity to improve its depleted resume with some credible wins the past two weekends, but lost five of six to #4 TCU and #21 Texas Tech. The Longhorns have now lost four of their last five conference series.
It might be too late to rally the troops with athletic director Steve Patterson watching his every move. As we’ve seen since Patterson arrived on the scene from Arizona State, he has no problem telling coaches to hit the road. Just ask Mack Brown and Rick Barnes. My guess? When the Longhorns are eliminated in the Big 12 Tournament in two weeks in Oklahoma City, Patterson will, once again, be in the market for a new head coach of one of his premier teams.
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