OMAHA, Neb. - Two good friends are facing each other in the championship of the College World Series.
Texas coach Augie Garrido is up against his former top assistant, Cal State Fullerton coach George Horton. Both men say it will be difficult, but they will leave their personal feelings outside the stadium and meet the obligations of trying to win the best-of-three series.
"It's kind of an eerie feeling to be competing with my team with so much at stake," Horton said Friday. "Still, you're competing against somebody who is like your brother, or your father or best friend."
Horton coached under Garrido at Cal State Fullerton from 1991 to 1996, and they made three trips to the College World Series, winning the title in 1995.
Garrido, the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I history and the coach for all three of Cal State Fullerton's national titles, moved to Texas eight years ago, and Horton took over the Titans.
"The relationship I have with George and his family is very important to me," Garrido said. "And I get emotional talking about it."
However, the players need to be the focus, not the coaches.
"This is what I was afraid of when you all won," Garrido said of the Titans. "This is about the wrong people. George and I are a product of our players, all coaches are. But we're not talking about the players. And they're the heroes."
The top-seeded Longhorns (58-13) will play for their second national title in three years starting today.
The Titans (45-22) have been to the College World Series four times under Horton. They were on the brink of reaching last year's championship round after a 2-0 start in the College World Series before being eliminated with two losses to Stanford.
Texas, which has been resting since Wednesday's 7-6 comeback win over Georgia, will have star pitcher J.P. Howell (15-2) to start today's game.
Cal State Fullerton defeated South Carolina 4-0 on Thursday. The Titans will start Ricky Romero (13-4). Jason Windsor, who pitched three innings Thursday, was scheduled to start Sunday, but his status is in doubt because of a sore arm.
Windsor (12-4), a major league prospect, will be getting deep massages. If the series goes to Monday, Windsor will pitch only if he feels strong, Horton said.
"We're not going to endanger his future to try to be successful in this series," Horton said.