• December 20, 2014

Longhorns are headed back to the College World Series

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Posted: Monday, June 9, 2014 4:30 am

Augie Garrido had a reputation for being a winner, having a high salary and the penchant for getting it done when it mattered most, but there were still questions.

New athletic director Steve Patterson was coming in, and just months after taking over, Mack Brown stepped down as Texas football coach.

Naturally, the UT faithful wondered if men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes and Garrido would follow.

On Saturday, Garrido put to rest any notion that he was done by guiding a young Longhorn squad back to where the program belongs: Omaha.

The Longhorns finished off the Houston Cougars with a 4-0 shutout at Disch-Falk Field to sweep the Austin Super Regional and advance to the College World Series.

Texas will make its 35th trip to the CWS — the most of any program in the nation — and its first trip to Omaha since 2011.

As a Texas ex, I can tell you that although baseball doesn’t grip that campus nearly as much as football, it is second in line.

Garrido is the only coach in NCAA history to win more than 1,800 games, 696 of which came at Texas. He led UT to national titles in 2002 and 2005.

But the Horns took a nosedive since 2011, at least by UT standards. Texas had a short stay in the 2012 Big 12 Tournament and missed the conference tournament in 2013 while being one of the league’s bottom-feeders.

Though it started strong out of the gate with a 30-8 record, UT lost 10 of its final 18 games of the regular season.

To Garrido’s credit, Texas righted the ship, but it wasn’t without some adversity.

After blowing out Texas A&M and beating home team Rice, the Longhorns were dominated by Aggie freshman Tyler Stubblefield later in the regional tournament to set up a winner-take-all elimination game. After the win, Stubblefield looked at the UT bullpen and turned the Hook ’Em Horns sign downward.

Any UT fan would rather one say something bad about their mother, wives, sisters and aunts simultaneously than stand for that insult.

With the rivalry renewed on the diamond, things could have gone south for Garrido if UT was eliminated by A&M. Even though the Aggies left for the Southeastern Conference two years ago, the bitterness between fan bases remains.

And in coaching, one of the cardinal rules is you must beat your rivals, especially when the AD has a couple of degrees from the school you’re coaching.

Despite falling behind early, Chad Hollingsworth was dominant on the mound and etched himself besides Justin Tucker as the most hated men in College Station.

After that win against A&M, the momentum was all Burnt Orange.

And just like Barnes, Garrido put together a surprising season and turned the fortunes of the program around.

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