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Golden: Legendary UT swim coach Eddie Reese will keep them laughing in retirement

Reese is an eight-time NCAA Coach of the Year

Cedric Golden
Austin American-Statesman
Legendary Texas swimming coach Eddie Reese poses with his grandson, freestyle swimmer Luke Bowman, at the Texas Swimming Center in February 2019. Reese, who just won his 15th national championship with Bowman on the squad, has announced his retirement after 43 years.
  • Reese announced his retirement after Texas won its 15th national title last week.
  • Reese was hired by Darrell Royal in 1979.
  • Reese has often employed his great sense of humor in dealing with athletes over the years.

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte has made some name hires during his tenure, but I feel really sorry for the coach who has to replace the G.O.A.T of Texas coaches.

Eddie Reese took a celebratory dip into the pool in Greensboro, N.C., after Texas wrapped up its 15th national swimming title last week, concluding (well, sort of) one of the most dominant runs in the history of the coaching profession.

Reese, a standup comedian who has, for the last 43 years, successfully held a second job as the greatest swimming coach in the history of the sport, will remain the head coach emeritus at UT, which means he'll be splitting time between his favorite bodies of water — the natatorium and the area lakes where he has been known to bait a hook or two.

More:'He set the standard': Texas swimming icon Eddie Reese to retire after 43 seasons

So what does emeritus mean, anyway?

“It means that I’ve acquired another language,” Reese said on this week’s "On Second Thought" podcast. “It’s Latin. That goes along with my Starbucks order of a Grande. That’s Italian. I never knew I would pick up languages this late in life.”

If there was a Mount Rushmore of head coaches at Texas, Reese would be a no-brainer. The Pool Master is the greatest coach to ever step foot on the Forty Acres and that’s some statement considering the company he’s keeping in legends like Darrell Royal — the man who hired him in 1979 — as well as Cliff Gustafson, Augie Garrido and Jody Conradt, to name a few.

The championship hardware notwithstanding, Reese may actually hold the title as the funniest coach to come through Texas, running neck-and-neck with two who are no longer with us: Garrido and former basketball coach Abe Lemons.

The jokes weren’t just reserved for the males under his charge, it turns out.

“He had a way of connecting with all swimmers — not just his guys,” former UT swimmer Julie Sommer told me. “What stands out for me, aside from his brilliant coaching, was his quick wit and ability to find humor in what seemed like every small moment, which is one of those intangibles of truly knowing how to connect with athletes and can make such a difference in a sport like swimming.”

The grandfather of four will still be at the pool and on the creek as he enters this next phase of one wonderful ride.

And if Reese is in a conversation, the odds are the person on the other end of that talk is laughing.

More:Golden: Chris Beard's culture will determine whether Texas becomes elite

Horns running back depth: With Texas back on the field for spring football after a brief COVID-19 pause, one of the biggest questions involves the division of labor at running back. Sophomore Bijan Robinson rushed for 443 yards over the last two games of the season, which made him the obvious choice to start over highly regarded junior Roschon Johnson.

Texas Longhorns running back Roschon Johnson fights for yardage against Colorado Buffaloes safety Isaiah Lewis in the first quarter during the 2020 Valero Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome in December. Johnson is expected to split carries with Bijan Robinson this fall.

A stable of running backs is good to have and Texas returns two experienced options along with Hallettsville star Jonathon Brooks. Finding touches for three horses in the backfield is a good problem to have for new head coach Steve Sarkisian.

More:Golden: Fan base should practice patience with Steve Sarkisian

“He's a great offensive mind,” Johnson told reporters on Tuesday. "So he'll do a good job, utilizing our strengths, putting players in the right spots to make plays and be productive for the team overall. So I feel like he's already done a good job of that, so far in spring, and he's really gonna put the pieces in the right place in this offense.”

Remember, Johnson arrived as a quarterback and will be getting only his second full spring as a full-time running back. Assistant coach Stan Drayton, retained by Sarkisian from Tom Herman's former staff, will have fun with this group if they can stay healthy.

Rangers foolishly pack house: The Texas Rangers defied the medical community when they opened Globe Life Field’s doors to 38,000 fans for their home opener, making it the first full-capacity sporting event played in the United States in over a year.

The final box score:

Toronto: 6 runs, 7 hits, 1 error.

Texas: 2 runs, 5 hits, 19,000 errors.

In short, the stadium should have been half-full.

More:Who is throwing Texas Rangers' first pitch after Greg Abbott declined the honor?

Scientists and doctors from here to kingdom come were right to suggest that MLB parks go with 50% capacity as America seeks to vaccinate the population against the COVID-19 virus, but it wasn’t enough for Rangers ownership to make the worst decision since the team gave Alex Rodriguez a quarter of a billion dollars 20 years ago to star three seasons for a last-place team.

Monday’s decision was a big fat middle finger to the science and medial communities. Furthermore, it provided ample proof that the almighty dollar ranks well ahead of the public health in some circles.

Worse yet, there just weren’t enough fans wearing masks in the stands.

And please spare me any talk of this being a political discussion because it isn’t. It’s about safety and when the numbers show that only 16% of Texans are fully vaccinated, then the decision to go against the CDC ’s recommendation and pack the house becomes even more reckless, even if the numbers for positive tests and hospitalizations are down overall.

Kudos to the medical community for the progress it has made, but those doctors and nurses are powerless when it comes to the decision makers who run professional sports organizations.

This never would have happened in the NFL or NBA. Here’s hoping we won’t be calling them the Texas Super Spreaders in a couple of months.