Maryland has hired Vanderbilt assistant coach Erik Bakich as its new head baseball coach, a source close to the situation confirmed Saturday. The hire will be announced officially on Monday. Bakich replaces Terry Rupp, who resigned in late May.
Bakich is a rising star in college coaching circles, known for his exceptional talent as a recruiter, his sharp baseball mind, his gregarious personality and his tireless work ethic. As Vandy’s recruiting coordinator, he brought in the nation’s top-ranked class in 2005 (highlighed by third baseman Pedro Alvarez) and the No. 2 class in 2008 (highlighed by righthander Sonny Gray). Each of Bakich’s last four recruiting classes have ranked among the top 25 in the nation, and his efforts are a significant reason the Commodores have become regular contenders in the Southeastern Conference.
Bakich is the latest member of the Jack Leggett/Keith LeClair coaching tree to get a head job (other former Leggett assistants currently serving as head coaches include Vandy’s Tim Corbin, Florida’s Kevin O’Sullivan, Tennessee’s Todd Raleigh and Auburn’s John Pawlowski). He played for LeClair at East Carolina, graduating in 2000, and he started his coaching career as a volunteer under Leggett at Clemson in 2002. Bakich has his work cut out for him at Maryland, which needs significant facility upgrades and lacks winning tradition. But Vanderbilt was in a similar position when Bakich and Corbin arrived there after the 2002 season, and Bakich’s experience as a part of that turnaround should help him at Maryland.
Other finalists for the Maryland job included assistant coach (and former William & Mary head coach) Jim Farr, Indiana coach Tracy Smith and Radford coach Joe Raccuia, according to one source. But Bakich was an inspired choice if Maryland is serious about building a winning baseball program. This is not the first time he has received a head coaching offer at a Division I school, but he was waiting for the right job to come along before leaving a very good situation at Vanderbilt. For him to take the Maryland job, it must mean he is confident he can win there, and it likely signals that the administration is ready to ramp up its commitment to the program.