The end of an era: Augie Garrido steps down

I know, I’m a few days late on the Augie Garrido decision. While most college baseball fanatics were watching the selection show on Monday — and then inevitably complaining about which bracket they wound up in — I was covering the DIII Baseball Championships. It was pretty fun baseball, considering the basic lack of pitching and the ensuing superb defensive plays and tremendously big bats. Hey, I could have been stuck watching the Braves, right?

Had it not rained for seemingly five hours every day of the tournament, it would have been even better. Still it was good baseball. Check out my live blog for NCAA.com to get see some of the sites and sounds.

Anyway, what’s really important is that the NCAA, not just college baseball, saw one of its legends hang it up this weekend. And I feel like it came without a lot of well-deserved fanfare.

I get it. College baseball is amazing and just as exciting as any other college sport, but it isn’t basketball or football. Millions will watch the College World Series this month, but it isn’t the worldwide spectacular that March Madness or the football National Championship game is. Every woman, child and man alive — even some animals who pick the winners — fill out a Final Four bracket or enter some Bowl pool at the office. The College World Series? Not so much.

It’s more for the baseball junkies and alumni of the schools. Maybe that’s why it’s always somewhere in middle America. But I love it that way.

Had it been Nick Saban, Coack K, Geno Auriemma could you imagine the tributes? Instead, Garrido– the winningest coach in college baseball history –gets relieved of his coaching duties (he’s still on board in a “Special Assistant” role) and seemingly more people talk about Charlie Strong’s future in Texas than Garrido’s.

1975. That’s a lot of wins. It’s the most ever. Augie also won five National Championships. Three with Cal State Fullerton and then the 2002 and 2005 titles with Texas. Rick Pitino, Urban Meyer and the aforementioned Nick Saban are the only other three coaches to win titles with two different programs. Everyone knows the first three, do you think the average sports fan knows the name Augie Garrido?

He reigned supreme in Omaha, with his numbers in the top three in most categories trailing collegiate baseball legends Rod Dedeaux and Cliff Gustafson in wins and appearances. But you can make the argument that Garrido is the best coach of the modern era. This is an era that sees Vanderbilt go to consecutive championship series, an era that there are so many competitive college baseball teams that Top 25 teams in the nation get snubbed from the 64-team bracket.

Garrido was known for his mental take on the game, taking the time to develop his players’ psyche as well as their skills, the Yoda or Phil Jackson of college baseball I guess you could say. He is considered one of the great teachers of the game, not simply a coach. Look at what his players have accomplished:

“Garrido has coached three Golden Spikes Award winners, four National Players of the Year, six College World Series MVPs, 53 All-Americans (66 total honors), 14 all-league MVPs and 129 players who have gone on to professional baseball during his career (NCAA.com).”

Texas had their worst statistical season in program history in well over 100 years. He had been on the proverbial hot seat for the past two seasons. Garrido saved his job by doing the only thing he ever knew how to do… win. An improbable run in the 2014 CWS, backed by taking a 26-25 team to the Big 12 title game saw the hot seat cool down a little bit.

This year, Garrido had a losing record, his first since last millennium. There was no magic that was going to get these Longhorns to Omaha, and unfortunately that apparently meant it was time for a change. Texas baseball — and Omaha — won’t be the same.

 

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