Blogs and Commentary

posted 02.18.2013 at 10.02 a.m. by Jac Coyne

MCLA Division I Notebook

Andy Garrigan's coaching career at Texas didn't exactly start as he had anticipated. Originally, Garrigan, who has been the head coach at Austin High School for nearly a decade, had agreed to be the Longhorns' coach for the 2014 season and act in sort of a consulting role this spring. Brian Myers, the UT coach at the time, spoke with Garrigan to make sure the arrangement would work out.

"He called me one day as I was rolling up to high school practice and he said, 'Hey, we'd love to have you on. It will make for a good transition next year and hopefully you'll say yes,'" said Garrigan. "I said 'That sounds fine.' Forty-five minutes later, I get an email in the middle of practice saying that he is tendering his resignation effective immediately. It was one of the deals where I just held up the phone and showed it to my assistant. He just said, 'Jesus.'"

So there was Garrigan last fall, committed to coaching Austin High for the spring and now the de facto coach of a perennial MCLA-I tournament program. After some initial scrambling, Garrigan compared the schedules of his prep team and Texas and found there were no game conflicts, so he tried to develop a way to make this work.

"Austin High practices start at 4:45 p.m. and then my assistant, who is coming with me to UT next year full-time, and I hop in the car and drive around the corner to UT," Garrigan said. "We practice a couple of hours there and then we're home at about 10 p.m. at night. It's a lot of time, but it's fun. We've tried this and it's working. The guys are great. They are fantastic to work with and the school administration is phenonmenal."

Texas, like a lot of large Southern universities, has a lot of distractions on campus, and that wasn't always easy for Myers — a no-nonsense coach who apprenticed under Stevenson's Paul Cantabene and played in both NCAA Division I and the MLL — to swallow. This created an uneasy locker room.

"When I came in the players said, 'Yeah, there were some issues,'" Garrigan said. "We just sat down with them and asked, 'What works? What schedule works the best for you guys? Let's make this work.' We have late practices. We've told them they can't miss games. You can miss practices, but there are going to be consequences. I think one player has missed one practice since October and that was because we thought he broke his ankle.

"We told them to set the schedule and we'll work around it. They looked at their schedules, talked to their fraternities, and it has just sort of all fallen into place. We are able to run 35 to 38 guys every night at practice. I don't know what went on here last year. And I really don't care."

In addition to finding a schedule friendly to both the player and coach, Garrigan and his assistant, Kyle Loda, have changed up the Longhorns approach on the field, especially on the offensive end.

"We watched every game film from last year several times," Garrigan said. "They had athletes, but from what we saw, they ran their offense like more of a men's club league where you find the chump guy and get after him a little bit. Maybe somebody will pop open and we'll make a skip pass and hope for the best. We have more of a disciplined approach. Everything we do, there's a reason behind it.

"We started spelling that out with them and they kind of went, 'Oh, yeah, that skip pass through six guys isn't a good thing. It's actually shown in the games.' We've been able to slow it down a little bit on the settled end. On the other hand, it's nice to know you can get after a team and not run out of gas. I was amazed by the athleticism of these guys and how hard they work and how easy they are to coach. It has been a real blast to do it."

After a 4-0 start to the season against some of the lightweights in the LSA, Texas received its first test of the year against Florida State in New Orleans on Saturday night. Before the game even started, Garrigan was tested, as well. He had to make a 5:45 a.m. flight from New Orleans to Houston on Saturday morning to coach the Austin High team in a tournament, then fly back into NOLA for the contest against the 'Noles. It's just one of those quirky parts about being both a prep and college coach.

Still, neither Garrigan nor Texas felt any ill-effects. The No. 21 Longhorns blasted No. 18 FSU, 14-3, to improve to 5-0. There's a long way to go for the Longhorns, including games against No. 14 Boston College at home and a California trip featuring No. 16 Sonoma and No. 8 UCSB.

Garrigan is in a tough coaching spot, but so far, so good.

"Everything seems to be going fine now, granted it's early in the spring," he said. "I was confident that when they came back with the schedule, it would work well. And it has."

- The Pac-12 Shootout, hosted annually by UCLA, is a very cool idea, and this year 11 of the dozen traditional members of the conference (Colorado was the only omission) converged on Los Angeles for highly competitive games. The two programs that left looking the best? Arizona State and Stanford.

The second-ranked Sun Devils coasted past No. 15 Cal in their lone game of the Shootout, 14-8, and then routed San Diego State on Sunday in an SLC divisional game, 19-4. No. 11 Stanford, which already has a win over No. 8 UC Santa Barbara to its credit, fought off a talented Oregon State team on Saturday, 10-8, and then routed No. 7 Oregon, 14-7, on Sunday. Both ASU and the Cardinal should be Top 5 teams this week. "Should" being in the optimal word.

Despite the setback to Stanford on Sunday, it was still a productive week for Oregon. The Ducks edged PNCLL rival Simon Fraser (ranked No. 22) on Wednesday and then stunned (soon-to-be-formerly) No. 4 Chapman, 9-8 on the Panthers own field. It's tough seeing Oregon dropping out of the Top 10.

The team with the most issues coming out of the Shootout? Arizona. A 14-5 loss to Cal proves the Wildcats are not yet back to the elite level, but they are staring at the schedule of a title contender. And if they don't beat Grand Canyon this Saturday, they'll be looking at a first round match-up with either UCSB or Chapman in the SLC tourney.

- Things have officially hit rock bottom for Texas A&M. The Aggies were shutout by Mississippi on Sunday, 16-0...thanks to four goals and two dimes from rookie Austin Patrick, Iowa not only beat Kansas for the first time in program history, but the Hawkeyes have the inside track on a bid to the GRLC tourney. The Jayhawks have some work to do...Cal Poly posted a nice rebound win against Grand Canyon, 15-11. That was a dangerous game...Chapman better figure out what happened in the Oregon loss, and quickly. The Panthers don't have the schedule to do a lot of tinkering...Georgia Tech had its magical season undone by Central Florida, 9-4. The Wreck has Virginia Tech on deck.