Reports: Clemson should hire Michigan’s Erik Bakich as baseball coach | Clemson

CLEMSON — Clemson is expected to hire Michigan head coach Erik Bakich to lead its baseball program, according to multiple reports.

Bakich, who began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Clemson in 2002, led the Wolverines program for almost exactly 10 years. He was the 2019 National Coach of the Year after leading Michigan to second place in the College World Series.

The 44-year-old former East Carolina replaces Monte Lee, who was fired as Tigers coach on May 31. Clemson has missed the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons, the first such streak since the mid-1980s.

Bakich may have led the Big Ten’s most consistent program at Michigan. After not making the playoffs in his first two years at Michigan, the Wolverines have appeared in the NCAA Tournament in five of the last seven campaigns, excluding the COVID-shortened 2020 season. They’ve also finished above .500 in Big Ten play every year Bakich served as head coach.

Before coming to Michigan, Bakich was the head coach of Maryland from 2010 to 2012. There, the Terrapins finished with 17 wins in his freshman year, but won 32 in his third and final season.

Bakich has a clear connection to Clemson having worked under Jack Leggett in 2002. But he also spent the next seven seasons helping a branch of Leggett’s coaching tree, former assistant Tim Corbin (1994-2002), to make Vanderbilt a college baseball powerhouse. Bakich served as scouting coordinator and batting coach for the Commodores and worked with outfielders.

As a scout, Bakich helped Vanderbilt land the nation’s top-ranked class in 2005. Perhaps his biggest scouting victory came in shock to future No. 1 overall David Price, who then finished second in voting for the 2010 Cy Young Award with the Tampa Bay Rays.

During his time alongside Corbin, the Commodores recorded 54 wins in 2007, while they also had 40+ seasons in 2004 and 2008. Corbin then led Vanderbilt to national titles in 2014 and 2019 – this last a win over Bakich’s Wolverines.

Clemson athletic director Graham Neff hopes Bakich can breathe some life into a baseball program that has strayed from its usual standards in recent seasons. Not only have Clemson missed the tournament in consecutive seasons, but the Tigers finished 25-27 in 2021 – the program’s first losing season since 1957. They bounced back to finish 35-23 overall in 22, but a 13-16 record in the ACC game – after a 2-9 start – made Clemson the last team to qualify for the conference’s 12-team tournament.

Lee, a former College of Charleston head coach and South Carolina assistant, finished with a 242-136 record in seven seasons in charge of the Tigers. He was making $500,000 a year coaching the Tigers. Bakich earned around $800,000 a year in Michigan.

“We’re incredibly optimistic about our work and the profile of our work as a top 15 job and the interest it would have,” Neff said at a May 31 press conference. “And, again, our desire to win, and win big, and the necessary investment and resources that would entail, we’re ready to present a great package.”

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