Abram and I began writing about Texas Longhorns baseball for Burnt Orange Nation way back in 2008 (we've since been joined by Michael last year and Jack this year). Each week for nine seasons we have provided a look at the upcoming contests, but this week I wanted to focus inwardly on the state of Texas baseball. The Horns still face an uphill battle for the rest of the season and the future has never felt murkier despite beating UTSA handily on Tuesday.
It's a tough topic to discuss, so I'll handle it in bullet format sticking just to the facts as I see them.
- Augie Garrido is the greatest coach in college baseball history. Okay, that's more of an opinion than a fact. Other coaches may have burned brighter, but nobody has burned as bright as Garrido as long as he has.
- Excluding World War II, Texas baseball has been led by four men over the last century. That's insane. Texas baseball should never not be good.
- Texas is 9-12 so far in 2016. That's not good.
- Texas has had 15 or fewer losses in a full season three times under Augie Garrido. Under Garrido, Texas has won two titles, nearly won two more and played a ton of really good baseball. The stretch from 2002 to 2011 was one of the best decades in college baseball history.
- Texas has faced a very tough schedule. Boyd's World ranks it the seventh hardest in the country as of Wednesday afternoon.
- The future is not certain and this team has enough talent to bounce back. Texas could beat TCU this weekend at home and then romp through a weak Big 12 on their way to a hosting gig.
- Texas has a run differential of +26, so they are probably better than their current record indicates.
- Texas is beat up. Josh Sawyer, Tyler Rand, Joe Baker and Patrick Mathis were all counted on this year and are all injured to varying degrees.
- Texas is starting to get healthy again. Mathis is back, Sawyer pitched on Tuesday for the for the first time in a month, and Rand will be back soon.
- Texas has not been very good in conference play over the last four years. The Horns are just 44-51 since 2012, suggesting a dominating romp through the conference isn't likely.
- Excluding such a miracle, Texas baseball will not be hosting a regional for the FIFTH straight year. Texas hosted one Super Regional during that time (2014) thanks to Houston going into Baton Rouge and beating LSU.
- 2014 was an amazing run.
- Texas was ranked in the top 30 by Collegiate Baseball at the end of each season from 2000 to 2011. Texas has been ranked in the top 30 since then only once (2014).
- 2014 really looks like an outlier compared to 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. When we're talking year after year about what Texas needs to do to make the tournament then we've lost our way.
- Texas is 1-8 over the last three years against TCU with a single meaningless victory on the last day of a 2013 season in which Texas failed to make the conference tournament.
- Only one of the eight losses to TCU over the last three years has even been by one run.
- Texas has been remarkably consistent offensively since the start of 2012. That has rarely been a good thing (hitting stats prior to the UTSA contest).
- Much like the NFL toward the end with Mack Brown, the MLB doesn't like Texas (and especially Texas position players) nearly as much as they used to. Consider the below two charts showing the number of Longhorns drafted by MLB teams over three years (top chart) and the number of Longhorn position players taken in the top 200 picks over three years. At least one position player from Texas was drafted in the top 200 picks each year from 2002 to 2011, but none since. MLB used to love the University of Texas, but not so much anymore.
Augie Garrido is under contract for one more season.
- The last four and a half seasons provide evidence that some magic is possible, but 2017 stands a strong chance of being a lost year like 2016 has been so far.
- Texas is the 10th-best team according to Boyd's World. In the state of Texas. The current pecking order is: TCU, A&M, Houston, Dallas Baptist, Texas Tech, Rice, Texas State, UTSA, Lamar, Texas.
- Augie Garrido has earned the right to go out on his own terms in my book.
- Texas baseball needs a change.
TCU comes to town this weekend at 16-3 and ranked No. 6 in the country. The Horned Frogs have a sweep of ULL/Rice/Houston a few weeks ago by a combined score of 27-2. TCU averages nearly nine runs a game on offense which is slightly above the five runs a game Texas averages. They're good. Really good.
As Herb Brooks said, "Great moments are born from great opportunities." Texas has an opportunity to turn around its season starting tonight. Texas will throw Morgan Cooper, Ty Culbreth and Kyle Johnston this weekend against the 6th best team in the country. Connor Mayes heads to the bullpen where he'll be the team's closer.
Thursday - 6 PM - Longhorn Network.
Friday - 6 PM - Longhorn Network.
Saturday - 2:30 PM - Longhorn Network.