Guest Column: Texas’ Seventh-Place NCAA Finish Shines Spotlight on Greatness of the Eddie Reese Era

Eddie Reese

Guest Column: Texas’ Seventh-Place NCAA Finish Shines Spotlight on Greatness of Eddie Reese’s Tenure

By Chuck Warner

Ever since that first season of 1979 ended, the expectations for a title chase by Eddie Reese-coached Texas teams have become commonplace. Like winter that turns to spring, team members, alums and swim fans have known that Texas would be in the hunt for one of their record 15 titles. Thirteen times runners-up and another eight times third, makes a seventh-place finish in the final season painful unless you see it as a magnificent point of perspective of how special Coach Reese’s 46-year tenure at Texas has been.

Take a look at a historical perspective. After Doc Counsilman’s Indiana University squads reeled off six straight NCAA titles from 1968-73, they have finished in the top five over the following 51 years, five times. Peter Daland had an incredible run at USC from 1960-1992, finishing in the top three 23 times and winning eight team titles. In the last 30 years, USC has never finished in the top three despite being led most of those years by Olympic coaches. Eleven times they haven’t made it into the top 10.

Auburn had a great run with Dave Marsh and Richard Quick at the helm between 1997 and 2010, winning eight titles. In the last 14 years, they have never been in the top five. Two years they didn’t score a point.  Finally, Stanford’s Skip Kenney won the championship six times, kept the team in the top five for 30years (1982-2012) but in the last 12 years, the Cardinal have only twice finished in the top five at the NCAA Championships.

Dave Durden’s Cal teams seem to have the most potential for a legacy that can hold a candle to Texas. For the last 14 years, the Bears have finished first or second at the NCAAs–quite a run. If Dave is able to coach another 30 years (into his late 70s) at this level, he could stand side by side with Eddie. That’s a long hike to traverse.

Sustaining a national title effort over 46 years has not only been due to a gift for coaching swimming but incredible hard work—and the adoption of a lifestyle of excellence. The support of Elinor Reese, “Eddie’s Coach,” can’t be understated in smiling through that tenure.

This season still saw Luke Hobson’s stunning American record swim of 1:28.81 in the 200-yard freestyle. Eddie Reese has coached swimmers to American records in six decades: 1970s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010 and in the 2020, a record that in and of itself will likely never be broken.

In a season of Eddie training team members and pros to be fast at the Pan Am Games in October and World Championships in February, he also brought along Texas swimmers to become the second fastest 100-backstroke freshman in history (Will Modglin 44.20) and best times, even in their senior seasons by Coby Carozza and Cole Crane. The freshman class was excellent and the future for the team is in great shape.

There are 12 weeks to Olympic Trials, with one group, one target to complete an unparalleled coaching career. If you get the chance along the way to bump into that smiling kid from Daytona Beach, you might say “thank you” for the 46-year ride; from turning the state of Texas into a “swimming state” where you “Don’t Mess with Texas” to admiring those shaved heads that gave it all and a team to pull for to win another title. What a thrilling ride piloted by a man with all the grace from Spirit that any man or women could hope to walk the day with.

Thank you, Eddie Reese.

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Raymond Woods.
Raymond Woods.
2 months ago

the MAN!

Brian Vance
Brian Vance
2 months ago

Great article, Chuck!

Bob Steele
Bob Steele
1 month ago

Ww at T GOOOOO Eddie!! U da GOAT!!!

Don Megerle
Don Megerle
1 month ago

Excellent post Chuck….i even got a little teary eyed…always admired Coach Reese!!

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