Augie Garrido, relieved of his duties as the Texas baseball coach last month after 20 seasons, will be receiving a bushel of new Christmas cards this year from counterparts around the country who are signing lucrative extensions to keep them from leaving for Austin.
So who’s left for a once-national power like Texas to hire?
Well, UCLA’s John Savage is reportedly the Longhorns’ latest top target. However, there is an interesting name out there that has made it known he’d like to take over a program that has had three coaches — Garrido, Cliff Gustafson and Bibb Falk — since 1940.
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According to Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman, who, mind you, still wants Texas to make a charge at Horned Frogs coach Jim Schlossnagle, talked to Lance Berkman, a beloved Houston Astro and Texan through-and-through.
Berkman flat-out told Bohls he wants the job: “I have not been contacted by anyone. I’m in my prime. But whoever gets the Texas job has got to win the state of Texas back. Being in the high school ranks, I talk to a lot of coaches and kids, and they’re fired up about A&M, TCU and Texas Tech. You don’t hear anybody talking about Texas. It doesn’t have any momentum right now. You could only recruit the state of Texas and still have a chance to win the national championship every year. The other schools have stolen a little bit of fire from UT.”
Wondering what Berkman means about being in the “high school ranks?” William Lance Berkman is the head coach at Houston Second Baptist, which he led to a private-school state championship this year.
Berkman was born in Waco, went to high school in New Braunfels and played his college ball at Rice. His Texan credentials are rock-solid, even if his coaching experience isn’t quite yet.
Hiring Berkman would certainly take a leap of faith by athletic director Mike Perrin.
But maybe there’s some precedent for taking a leap of faith. In the spring of 1968, former Texas athletic director Darrell Royal called up a 37-year-old Texas high school baseball coach named Cliff Gustafson, and hired him.
It worked out pretty well.