Garrido believes process is key, winning a by-product
· 2006 Baseball: |
Asked if his coach, Augie Garrido, had addressed the idea of the Longhorns being college baseball's defending National Champions, junior All-American Drew Stubbs nodded.
"He doesn't care for the words," Stubbs reported. "He doesn't want 'National Champion' to be in anyone's vocabulary on this year's team."
A coach who does NOT want to tout his team as the defending National Champion.
How could that be?
It could be because that is the world of Garrido, the Obi-Wan Kenobi of The University of Texas.
Who isn't going to heed the word of a man whose teaching resume includes being one of two men who has won the second-most NCAA championships in his career?
Who isn't going to heed the word of a man who is one of two men who has won national titles in football, basketball or baseball at more than one school? (The other is Pop Warner.)
Who isn't going to heed the word of a man who entered the 2006 season with 1,542 victories, the most in the history of college baseball?
Perhaps only the fans, who relish the idea of the words "National Champion" and "Texas" being in the same sentence, as often as possible, would fail to heed the man.
Now with Stubbs, a preseason All-American, in the starting lineup every day, as well as the entire starting rotation back, many believe that Texas will be the defending National Champions again when the 2007 season begins.
Winners of two College World Series in four years, Texas entered the season ranked No. 1 in the Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball polls.
Such is understandable knowing that Stubbs, who hit .311, drove in 46 runs, stole 32 bases and collected 11 home runs, returns feeling stronger and better about himself as a player, as well as this team.
"When we got together in the fall, I saw a lot of maturity," said Stubbs, who will patrol centerfield for a third consecutive year. "I like the chemistry of this team. Everybody is together.
"Even with the new faces we have, we've got the starting pitching back and that makes a difference. Everyone knows that pitching and defense wins championships."
That pitching consists of four right-handers -- juniors Kyle McCulloch and Randy Boone and sophomores Adrian Alaniz and Kenn Kasparek, who at 6-foot-10 has picked up the moniker "Big Bird" of Sesame Street fame.
McCulloch, who took a liner near an ankle in the season opener in San Diego but appeared none the worse for wear, joined Stubbs as a preseason first-team All-American, while Alaniz was tabbed for the third team.
Certainly, Garrido is pleased and proud for his players, but these kinds of things basically fly in the face of the coach's philosophy.
He talks of the process, the journey. He talks of winning an inning and to always stay in the moment.
And that kind of thinking is why Garrido isn't flustered by the losses to open the year.
As former Longhorn Seth Johnston told the Austin American-Statesman, "The only time he mentions reward is when he is telling us not to think about it."
Garrido noted that this year's team, which has only two seniors, but 15 freshmen, is the youngest team he ever has had in defending a National Championship be it at Texas or Cal State Fullerton.
"Will the juniors returning be satisfied with winning last year?" Garrido begins by asking questions. "Will the juniors' priorities be different? Will their priorities be looking to be drafted? I'm excited to see how it all works out."
As he speaks, there is a calm.
He is thoughtful with every word.
"You can't play to other people's expectations," Garrido said. "That's fine for the media and the fans to talk about the National Championship and winning another one. I want them to play to the best of their ability in every inning of every game and improve from one game to the next.
"If they do that -- if we do that as a team, then the winning takes care of itself. You can't win unless you play well, and to play well has to be the focus.
"People ask if I feel pressure since we are the defending champs. Pressure is self-imposed. No one can place pressure on you. You make the choice to feel the pressure. I don't want the players to fall into the trap of accepting other people's expectations."
Garrido said in 2003, the year after his first national title at Texas, he was guilty of playing into the expectations and it was a most difficult year.
Thus the philosophical change. Remember, he talks of being a teacher.
"I want my players to be aware of what is most valuable to them," Garrido said. "Is it a ball? A bat? No, it is their minds and their ability to use the ball and bat. Baseball is another classroom in the educational process."
Still, he knows that some of his players are going to fast forward on the process.
"We have an 'Omaha or bust' mentality," Stubbs said.
OK, but just don't say it in front of Obi-Wan.