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A Longhorn Lament: Winds of Change in Austin?

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The winds of change are starting to blow in the Hill Country of Texas. Major change is coming. It is as inevitable as food safety was abysmal in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. It is, as people like my uncle down in Texas say, “when, not if” stuff. And as amazing as it sounds, we may be looking at the possible end of the Texas coaching careers of Rick Barnes, Mack Brown and Augie Garrido.

Let’s start with the precarious status of basketball coach Rick Barnes. During Rick’s time at UT, he has posted a 70% winning percentage. Impressive. However, he failed to make the NIT or the NCAA last year at all. And as he has developed a reputation as a guy that can’t take a team the distance (save one Final Four run in 2003), he has seen his recruiting drop like the value of the US dollar. The burnt orange writing is on the wall. As the college kids like to chant at the end of games, “Hey, Hey, Goodbye.”

Beyond Barnes, there also is trouble at DKR Memorial Stadium. Mack Brown, the coach of the Longhorn football team, is on the Hot Seat. His 2013 record so far is 7-3, 3rd in the Big XII. By TX standards, it is not nearly enough. Brown’s performance in the Red River Rivalry also has been poor. He won in 2013 for the first time since 2009. Bob Stoops is the better game day coach. Period. Finally, like Barnes, Brown’s recruiting has been a mixed bag with major misses such as Johnny Manziel. Old Mack Brown may be a second big change looming in Longhorn land.

Lastly, we cannot forget the struggles on the diamond. Augie Gurrero, the long-standing Texas baseball coach, is an icon. But even an icon has flaws. The last time that UT went an entire season with worse performance in their conference series play was 1956. As Augie said last summer, “I am mad as (we are a blog for kids).” In his great book that this reporter has read multiple times, Garrido says, “Life is Yours to Win.” His life of late hasn’t generated many of them. At the age of 74, now may be the perfect chance for Augie to spend more time with his grandkids.

The big question is: does new Athletic Director Steve Patterson have the guts to take on these icons of modern Texas athletics? During his time at Arizona State, it was reported in several sports publications this month that Patterson was responsible for firing nearly 100 athletic department staff members. So, the departure of longtime AD DeLoss Dodds and the arrival of Patterson may be the first big “tell.” Are the Hill Country winds of change growing? It sure seems so.

-Powers Trigg
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