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Clemson To Hire Michigan's Erik Bakich As Next Coach

Sources on Tuesday told Baseball America that Clemson will hire Erik Bakich as its next coach. Bakich has spent the last decade at Michigan, where he led the Wolverines to a runner-up finish at the 2019 College World Series and five NCAA Tournament appearances.

Bakich, 44, is returning to Clemson, where he started his coaching career in 2002 as a volunteer assistant under Jack Leggett. He is taking over the program following the dismissal of Monte Lee at the end of the season.

Over the last two decades, Bakich has developed into one of the most well-respected coaches in the country. After the 2002 season, he followed Tim Corbin from Clemson to Vanderbilt, where Corbin had been hired as head coach. Bakich, in his first full-time role, helped Corbin build the foundation of the Vanderbilt program before leaving after seven years to become head coach of Maryland. He nearly doubled the Terrapins win total from year one to year three, improving from 17 wins in 2010 to 32 in 2012.

Bakich arrived at Michigan following the 2012 season and over the last decade turned the Wolverines into one of the Big Ten’s premier programs. He reached regionals in 2015 and 2017, but his big breakthrough came in 2019, when Michigan made a run to the College World Series finals, falling one win shy of a national championship. The Wolverines reached No. 1 in the Top 25 in the abbreviated 2020 season and made the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons, this year falling to Louisville in the final of the Louisville Regional.

Now, Bakich will take on one of the top jobs in the ACC. Clemson has reached the CWS 12 times but has never won a title and has not been to Omaha since 2010. Both Leggett and Lee routinely made regionals in the decade following that 2010 trip, but the Tigers have not advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2010. In firing Leggett in 2015 and Lee this year, Clemson has made its remit clear: get the Tigers back to Omaha.

Clemson is coming off its first back-to-back NCAA Tournament misses since the mid 1980s, but much is still right with the program. The Tigers this year didn’t miss the field by much, winning 35 games and sweeping rival South Carolina. Recruiting has been strong and Michigan prep righthander Brock Porter, who on Tuesday was named Gatorade Player of the Year, is committed to the Tigers.

Recruiting is something Bakich has been adept at throughout his career. In 2017 at Michigan, he brought in the 10th ranked class in the country, the first time a Big Ten school had landed a top-10 class in the history of Baseball America’s recruiting rankings, which date to 2000. That class helped lead the Wolverines to Omaha two years later. As the recruiting coordinator at Vanderbilt, he landed the No. 1 class in 2005, the Commodores’ first top-ranked class. At Clemson, Bakich will be expected to haul in more top talent and, in turn, develop that talent into a high-level product on the diamond.

Athletic director Graham Neff said he considered Clemson to be a top-15 job when he began the search. He swung for the fences for a top-end coach and got one in Bakich, who had previously rejected overtures from South Carolina and Stanford to remain in Ann Arbor.

Now, it is on Bakich to deliver top-15 results. Having already proven he can take a team to Omaha expectations will be high for him to return Clemson to that level. It’s a challenge he is equipped to meet head on.

Courtesy NJCAA

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