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Augie Garrido, college baseball’s winningest coach, dead at 79

Augie Garrido, the whimsical coach with the small-ball philosophy who led Texas baseball to two national championships and won more games than any other coach in college baseball history, died Thursday morning in California. He was 79.

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Garrido had been hospitalized there since suffering a stroke last weekend.

Garrido ruled the Texas dugout from 1997 until 2016, having previously coached at Cal State Fullerton, Illinois, Cal Poly and San Francisco State. He amassed an 824-427-2 record with the Longhorns, leading Texas to national titles in 2002 and 2005. He won five championships in all, having won with Cal State Fullerton in 1979, 1984 and 1995.

With a career record of 1,975-951-9, Garrido is the all-time winningest coach in Division I baseball history.

“Augie was a giant in our game,” Texas head coach David Pierce said in a statement. “His impact on baseball, on the Forty Acres, and on me and so many others will live on forever. My thoughts are with Jeannie, his friends, his family, and all those who were lucky enough to have met him, played for him, or learned from him. His presence will be sorely missed but his legacy will never be forgotten.”

Response to Garrido’s passing from former players and coaching peers poured in from around the country.

“Pressure is a choice, the world treats winners different than losers, time is the ultimate game, passion will persuade reality,” former Texas pitcher Huston Street tweeted. “Coach you’ve been a genius for so many of us. A friend, our charming second Dad we all thought was just so cool. I love you forever.”

Said longtime Rice coach Wayne Graham: “It is a sad time because I don’t think anyone did more for college baseball and baseball in general than Augie Garrido. He knew the particulars of the game better than anyone.”

Said Oklahoma coach Skip Johnson, who spent 10 years as a Garrido assistant: “I couldn’t have had a better mentor in the game. We still talked at least once a week. When I got the head coaching job here at OU, I told him I wanted to carry on his legacy with all the things he taught me.”

Said former football coach Mack Brown: “He really made you think, made you laugh and always was so much fun to be around. He was truly a special man, one of a kind.”

Garrido set the career wins record in 2003 when Texas toppled top-ranked Florida State for his 1,428th win. Eleven years later, he broke the record for all collegiate coaches in a 5-1 win over Texas State. Florida State’s Mike Martin, who has coached the Seminoles since 1980, could break Garrido’s career record this season.

“College baseball and the world lost one of the finest men in our coaching profession,” Martin said in a statement. “Augie dedicated his life to making young men better people. He will be deeply missed by myself and many others.”

Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart, in Nashville for the Longhorns’ first-round game Friday against Nevada in the NCAA Tournament, called Garrido a mentor and said he was heartbroken.

“I don’t know what to say. I loved Augie,” Smart said. “He taught me so much in the time we were together. He taught me so much about the fact that what we were doing in our case is so much bigger than basketball, and in his case was so much bigger than baseball.”

While at Texas, Garrido coached 27 All-Americans and 102 players who went on to play professionally. Each of the 11 Longhorns that were selected in last year’s MLB draft were recruited by Garrido. In 2016, he told the Statesman that Street was the best Longhorn he had ever coached.

“What might seem exceptional for one person was very normal for him, to be able to perform and be successful in different environments,” Garrido said of Street, who has 324 saves in 13 MLB seasons. “His fearless approach to throwing to the mitt and trusting his teammates to do the rest — he came here with that.”

Texas won 18 of its last 20 games in 2002, with the final one being a 12-6 win over South Carolina to win the national championship at the College World Series. Led by pitchers Justin Simmons and Street as well as Tim Moss’ and Dustin Majewski’s All-American bats, the Longhorns went 57-15 and secured the school’s first baseball title since 1983.

Three years later, Garrido led UT back to the winner’s circle. Following a runner-up finish in 2004, Texas closed out its 2005 campaign with seven straight wins. The Longhorns (56-16) beat Florida 6-2 for the crown.

Texas relieved Garrido of his duties following the 2016 season. The Longhorns had reached the College World Series in 2014, but the program posted losing records in conference play the next two years. Texas went 25-32 in 2016; Garrido’s final game was an 8-2 loss to TCU at the Big 12 tournament.

Following his departure, Garrido had served as a special assistant to the athletic director. But he was occasionally still seen at Texas games. Last month, he and legendary LSU coach Skip Bertman threw out the ceremonial first pitches ahead of the two schools’ first meeting since the Tigers beat the Longhorns for the 2009 NCAA title.

“This is a very, very sad day,” UT athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. “We lost one of the greatest coaches of all time, a truly special Longhorn Legend and college athletics icon. There will never be another Augie Garrido. He was a once-in-a-lifetime personality whose impact on Texas Athletics, collegiate baseball and the student-athletes he coached extended far beyond the playing field.”

He was born August Edmun Garrido, Jr. on Feb. 6, 1939, in Vallejo, Calif. Garrido’s first appearance in the College World Series was as a Fresno State outfielder in 1959. After three years with the Bulldogs, he spent six years in the Cleveland Indians’ farm system.

In 1966, Garrido landed his first coaching job at Sierra High School in Tollhouse, Calif. Three years later, his college coaching career began when he took over the program at San Francisco State University.

Garrido is survived by his wife, Jeannie, and daughter, Lisa.

Texas college baseball coach fired after email to recruit about Colorado’s drug policies

A Texas college baseball coach and former major-leaguer was fired Thursday, partially because of comments he made about players from Colorado in an email to a potential recruit, the Star-Telegram reported.

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Mike Jeffcoat, who pitched in the majors from 1983 to 1994, was dismissed as Texas Wesleyan’s coach Thursday morning, university president Frederick Slabach announced at a news conference.

Jeffcoat, in an email to 18-year-old Gavin Bell of Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, Colorado, cited that state’s politicians and its marijuana policies as reasons not to recruit players from the Centennial State, the Denver Post reported.

“Thanks for the interest in our program,” wrote Jeffcoat, 58, who has been Texas Wesleyan’s coach since 2002. “Unfortunately, we are not recruiting players from the state of Colorado. In the past, players have had trouble passing our drug test. We have made a decision to not take a chance on Student-athletes from your state. You can thank your liberal politicians. Best of Luck wherever you decide to play.”

A screenshot of the email was tweeted out Wednesday afternoon by a Denver radio host.

That email, and violations of National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics rules regarding player eligibility, were the reasons for Jeffcoat’s firing. Slabach said. The school had been investigating the rule violations for about a week and reported them to the NAIA on Thursday, the Post reported.

“Mike Jeffcoat is no longer an employee of Texas Wesleyan University,” Slabach said at the news conference. “He was separated from the university due to the discriminatory remarks contained in the email to a potential recruit from the state of Colorado, and for another factor that we have been investigating for the past week.”

Bell told KCNC, that he "didn't know what to think" when he received Jeffcoat’s email.

"What does it have to do with anything with me playing baseball because of past encounters and not taking a chance with me?" Bell told KCNC.

During Thursday’s news conference Thursday, Slabach said the university, located in Fort Worth, “would love to have Gavin here as a student."

Since sales of recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado in 2014, Wesleyan has had only one other player from the Centennial State on its baseball roster, Eaglecrest graduate Aidan Laurini, the Post reported.

"My intention really wasn't to do anything to hurt anybody or get anybody fired," Bell told KCNC. "It was just me talking to my coaches and my loved ones about what do I do with this."

Jeffcoat had a 25-26 record over 255 games with the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants and Florida Marlins.

FBI: Don't fly drones in downtown Atlanta through championship game day

As the country turns its eyes to Atlanta for the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, the FBI is pushing one important message: Keep those drones away.

>> Visit AJC.com for complete coverage of the national championship game

Any aircraft, drones included, are prohibited from flying near the venues used during the championship weekend and game day, including Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia World Congress Center.

>> More coverage from DawgNation.com

Violators would face prosecution under federal law for “flying drones in restricted space,” FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said Sunday. “Temporary flight restrictions” are in effect.

>> Visit WSBTV.com for more Georgia Bulldogs news

>> Best of the best: The history of college football’s national championship game

Despite previous publicity about the law, officials spotted drones over some venues on Saturday, Rowson said.

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President Donald Trump is expected to attend the game, leading to an increase in security, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms promised a "safe, smooth and secure" event for the more than 100,000 attendees, and police urged people to leave any firearms at home.

Beloved sports broadcasting legend Dick Enberg dies

Beloved Hall of Fame sports broadcaster Dick Enberg, whose exuberant “Oh my!” calls resonated with fans, died Thursday, his wife and daughter confirmed to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

He was 82.

Enberg was a versatile broadcaster, covering 10 Super Bowls, 28 Wimbledon tennis tournaments and eight NCAA basketball title games when he was the play-by-play voice of UCLA during its dynasty in the 1960s and ’70s, the Union Tribune reported.

His last full-time job was as the television voice of baseball’s San Diego Padres. He retired from that position in 2016 after calling games for seven years. He also called games on radio for the California Angels and the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.

Enberg worked for NBC, CBS and ESPN, and his “Oh, my!” call became a legendary punctuation mark after a dramatic play.

He won the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award (2015), the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Rozelle Award (1999) and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's Gowdy Award (1995).

Enberg's daughter, Nicole, said the family became concerned when he didn't arrive on his flight to Boston on Thursday, ESPN reported. 

Enberg was found dead at his home in La Jolla, a San Diego neighborhood, with his bags packed. The family said it believes he had a heart attack, but is awaiting official word, ESPN reported.

“I’m heartbroken,” former Padres broadcast booth partner Mark Grant told the Union-Tribune. “It’s so sad. I thought Dick was the type of guy who was going to live until he was 100, going on the circuit, talking to everybody about baseball and football and tennis.”

Enberg joined NBC Sports in 1975 and worked for the network for 25 years. He was paired for many years with former Los Angeles Rams football star Merlin Olsen. He is the only person to win Emmy Awards as a sportscaster, a writer and a producer, ESPN reported.

Enberg also was a game show host, working as the emcee for the sports-oriented “Sports Challenge” from 1971 to 1979. The show pitted athletes from different teams in a quiz show format.

Recently, Enberg began hosting a podcast called “Sound of Success,” interviewing stars such as Billie Jean King, Bill Walton, Johnny Bench and Steve Kerr.

He told the Union-Tribune earlier this week that he hoped to lure NBA legend Magic Johnson, quarterback Colin Kaepernick and actor Jack Nicholson to his online show.

“At the very top of the list,” he said, “is Serena Williams.”

Poll reveals racial divide over whether college athletes should be paid

Should college athletes be paid beyond their full scholarship? The results of an August poll by the Washington Post and the University of Massachusetts Lowell show a racial divide in the answer to that question.

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When coaches are being paid millions, and sports facilities cost tens of millions, some say athletes should also be compensated.

Although 52 percent of Americans believe a scholarship is enough, 54 percent of black Americans said they believe athletes should be paid based on the revenue they generate. 

"The schools are making an awful lot of money, and the coaches are making millions and millions of dollars, and they're (the players) the ones bringing in the money, really," one black respondent said.

But whites see things differently. 

"The whole reason they go to college is to get an education, and a scholarship should be enough," a white nurse said. "They shouldn't be paid to play football."

The majority of whites who took the poll agreed with her.

Take an in-depth look at what some economists and labor lawyers call a critical problem with college sports on myajc.com

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