Texas head coach Augie Garrido walks out to field before the start of the game to gather his team on April 27, 2014. (Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman)

Baseball

Texas’ decision: Bring back Augie Garrido or fire the game’s winningest coach

Garrido says he won't quit, but acknowledges a "judgement" is coming

Posted May 18th, 2016

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Story highlights
  • If Garrido returns in 2017, it'll be as a lame duck coach. That uncertain nature could cripple the advance of the baseball program.
  • Though not getting into details, Garrido said he can fix the problems that has led to a 51-55 record over the past two seasons.
  • If Garrido does not return, this weekend's series against Baylor will mark his final games coaching at home.

Set aside for a moment the championship banners of years ago and the accumulation of indigestible losses of more recent times, and ponder this question about the future of Texas baseball:

Would athletic director Mike Perrin and other top school officials be willing to set into limbo the department’s third largest program and bring back the head coach for the final year of his contract?

In most corners of athletics, such an action would be seen as crippling to a team’s development and counterproductive to its pursuit of top recruits. In football, the notion of a lame duck coach is pretty much unheard of. Yet, if Augie Garrido has his way, his bosses will make an exception and allow him to coach the final year of his contract in 2017.

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Discussing his tenuous job status for the first time this season, Garrido was defiant Wednesday that he will not willingly step down. However, in the aftermath of a loss to Texas State on Tuesday that dropped the Longhorns to 21-28 overall, Garrido acknowledged he’s on shaky ground and said he’ll “accept the final judgement.”

Given Garrido’s refusal to walk away, Perrin could be confronted with a complicated decision — fire the game’s winningest coach or bring him back for a final hurrah, hoping the Longhorns revert back to the winning ways synonymous with all but a handful of Garrido’s 20 seasons.

Interestingly, Garrido, and not reporters, brought up the topic of his job status.

“I personally would like to finish the year on my contract that remains,” he said.

Whether Garrido’s bosses comply to that request determines whether he coaches any home games beyond the three scheduled with Baylor beginning on Thursday. His team has yet to secure a berth in next week’s Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City, but can do so through multiple scenarios, including winning a single game versus Baylor (22-26, 8-13).

If Garrido is dismissed, he’ll be owed $300,000 per the revised contract he signed after UT’s 2014 College World Series appearance. If he stays on, he’ll earn a salary in excess of $1 million that is believed to be the highest in the sport. Returning also would give Garrido a chance to chase 2,000 wins, of which he is currently 29 short.

Though he didn’t specify the issues, Garrido, 77, insisted he still has what it takes to fix them.

[brightcove_video video_id=”4908422023001″ caption=”Ryan Autullo, Cedric Golden and Kirk Bohls break down whether or not Augie Garrido will be UT’s coach in 2017.”]

“I don’t have control over the final decision on how to deal with me,” Garrido said. “I came to Texas to serve Texas. I’ll accept what’s best in the minds of the people that run the University of Texas. I’m honored by the opportunity. I can fix it. … I’ve fixed problems before. I’ve been very successful in turning things around and that’s the way I’m thinking about getting this done. This has been extremely difficult for everyone involved, and I understand that. The result of that, I’ll accept whatever the result is. I came to serve the University of Texas, the state of Texas, and I think the body of work has been good. I know I can fix this, given the chance.”

At least some of the blame for a 51-55 record over the past two years should be assigned to the 2011 recruiting class, which initially had 14 members but is now down to two — reliever Travis Duke and weekend starter Ty Culbreth. They’ll be playing their final home games this weekend.

“We joke that we’re the last of a dying breed,” Culbreth said.

The 2011 class was the last authored by former hitting coach and recruiting coordinator Tommy Harmon. Six members of the class signed professional contracts and shunned UT after being taken high in the MLB draft. Five years later, none of those six — catchers Steve Bean and Wyatt Mathisen, pitcher Tyler Gonzales, outfielder Courtney Hawkins, or infielders Austin Dean and Spencer Edwards — have played in the majors, and only two (Hawkins and Dean) have advanced to Double-A ball.

At various points, others from the 2011 class just fell off. Pitcher Holden Helmink redshirted and then left for San Jacinto College. There were two junior college additions; Matt Moynihan lasted one season, and Madison Carter played two, leading the team in hitting in 2014. C.J Hinojosa and Ben Johnson signed professional contracts after their third seasons in 2015, and pitcher Chad Hollingsworth retired from a shoulder injury after his third season.

Since getting burned by that class’ pro ambitions, Garrido’s staff has approached recruiting with more caution and have pursued players they were confident would show up to campus. In fact, none of the 29 players who signed with Texas from 2012-14 eschewed college ball for a pro contract. Consequently, 91 percent of Garrido’s current roster has eligibility remaining beyond this year.

So does Garrido. But will he still be around to use it?

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