Jack Leggett Should Resign

via www.theclemsoninsider.com

Its time for Jack to leave.

The head coach is responsible for everything in the program. He is ultimately responsible for recruiting talent, gauging his team's psyche in clutch situations, the on-field performance (hitting, pitching, defense), hiring assistants, and the in-game decisions.

The question is, are you a person who is satisfied with 40-win seasons and a CWS appearance every 2-3 years, or are you someone who wants Clemson to be the best?

If you're the former, you were probably also happy with 8 wins a year and a bowl game, and that Bowden was "a good christian man" and graduated his players.

I'm not one of those people. While I don't expect Clemson football to be in contention for a national title every year, I do expect 10 wins a year to be achievable at the onset of every season (barring a early NFL draft loss or critical injury of course). I don't put up with just being in the NCAA basketball tournament either. I want to win A game when we get there.

And I'm not putting up with Jack Leggett's inability to win in Omaha. Clemson baseball is a better program historically than the other two, and it seems people are just more accepting of his losses because they don't care about college baseball. Those who don't care just look at his record and see us in the CWS and say "well ok, who are we going to get that is better?" This is a nonsensical question, who wouldn't want to be at Clemson besides someone who has won a title at their program or is in a good position financially with AD resources? Clemson baseball is not like Duke football folks, we're an elite program and can go after the big fish. The only worrisome problem in this is who TDP would hire for the job, probably a cheap no-name coach from Alaska, when he wakes up from his nap.

I'm not calling for Jackson Leggett to be fired, he's a good coach. I'm not going to fire a coach that has won 40+ in all but three seasons in 17 years. He has kept Clemson baseball at a reasonably high level since taking over for Coach Bill Wilhelm. If you go by the number of CWS appearances we're better now than with Wilhelm, but college baseball is also very different now. The problem is that he's not going to get us to a national championship, and that is what we play baseball for. Since its readily apparent that Jack Leggett is not going to win the key games in Omaha, I think he should resign.

Our program is on the way down. We are not at the level we were in the 90s and early 2000s. The talent on campus is not what it was. Jack's very best seasons after taking over from Wilhelm were with his recruits, and the momentum from that carryover, and he brought in a very good staff of John Pawlowski (now at Auburn) and Tim Corbin (now at Vandy) during the 90s who could help coach players up and teach them how to pitch. We won 50 games in each of his first 3 years on the job, and only 3 times since. His staff has been a source of fortune and stress since he's been here.

He made a good hire with Kevin O'Sullivan as pitching coach and recruiter when John Pawlowski left in 1999. O'Sullivan got into the habit of going for guys who we knew would get drafted and most of his best signees went to MLB before enrolling, further diluting the talent here. MLB drafting is not something you can control as a head coach, but everyone is affected by it, not just Clemson, so Jack is still responsible for the talent brought in. Kevin O left for Florida's head job in 2008 and Jack brought in Kyle Bunn. Bunn was a notch below Kevin in terms of coaching and recruiting, in my opinion, but he wasn't bad. Not many are on par with Kevin O'Sullivan in recruiting. His first bad hire was bringing in Tom Riginos as hitting coach (in 2003 to replace Corbin) and recruiting coordinator (since Sully left), who really hasn't brought anything to the table in recruiting since then and judging by this team's performance at the plate in clutch situations and particularly against SC, should be fired immediately. Since Bunn left for more cash at Alabama, we brought in Dan Pepicelli, a D-III coach with no record developing anyone that I'd heard of, as our pitching coach and I see no results this season to show me that he knows what he's doing.

I'm not one of those people who follows baseball only in the postseason either. Everyone can click the "Clemson baseball" link in the sidebar and find out about that. Clemson hitters learned some good patience at the plate this year, but in key situations they still go dead-red pull. I don't see guys choking up on the bat in pitcher's counts. I don't see them able to put a bunt down in key situations (though i dislike bunting with aluminum). I don't see them working pitches from a guy who is cutting them down. Can anyone tell me that a single hitter in the 5-1 loss last week had a good approach at the plate and succeeded? You would think that at least one or two, maybe Parker or Hinson, would have one. I saw none. The only thing I saw our 1st round pick do since May was bail out and pull every pitch. I saw a UCLA pitcher cutting up TCU's bats last week, and their hitting coach walked out on the field during an AB and chastised his player. I wonder did Riginos do so during the SC game? 

As for Pepicelli, he's had one year as pitching coach, and like Jeff Scott, I will not call for a head after one season on the job. This team's pitching talent is not much to work with aside from (arguably) 5 guys, but the team ERA (the major indicator) is still on his head either way it goes. If it doesnt improve next season, he should go.

It also isn't that I don't give credit for this team making it further than it was supposed to go. I did not think we were Super Regional caliber earlier this season unless we got a great matchup. The thought nags at me that the team is better than most 20+ loss teams though, and if some problems were fixed and we beat the teams we were supposed to beat handily, then this postseason wouldn't be viewed as an overachievement.  We played very well against Virginia and lost the series. Thats a better team. We were swept in Atlanta, when we were playing our worst ball. Sweeping FSU was an overachievement I think. Handing it to Auburn at their house was an overachievement I think. We beat an Alabama team with almost the same record as our own. We shut down the #1 national seed, which was an overachievement. My major complaints about the team at midseason were: A). the clutch hitting (Riginos) with RISP B). inconsistency on the mound, and C). the defense (Leggett is the infield coach). Lets look at each and think about whether we really overachieved to just get to the CWS.

A lack of clutch hitting is caused by poor approach at the plate, and/or simply being too tense and trying too hard. This has been a common problem with a Leggett squad. You can see it in their at-bats. Most hitters default to pulling the ball. You can see their tension in how they make mistakes at the worst possible times on the field (see Miller's-Bill Buckner moment). It was their biggest fault in 2009, with a younger team. Its why they couldn't beat the teams they were supposed to beat all season in 2009, and it crept up at times this season. The rest I went into above.

The pitching faults have to lie squarely on the talent on the mound and Pepicelli. We shut down two solid-hitting teams in ACC play to start off the season (VT and NCSU). The teams we lost to this year, the ones that really beat up Clemson pitching on weekends, were not great hitting squads (aside from GT). Duke, who sucks, shelled our starters and the bullpen. WAKE FOREST, the 2nd WORST team in the ACC, beat us because we couldnt hit, pitch, or play defense at their place. UNC was barely hanging onto NCAA hopes by a thread until taking 2 of 3 against us at home, by pounding our starters in 2 of the games and taking advantage of defensive mistakes. I don't even need to enumerate the losses to inferior teams in midweek play.

As for the D, you do realize Clemson gave up 59 UNearned runs this year? If we had cut that in half, a more reasonable figure, do you not think this team would be over 50 wins? Not every game is 11-4 folks. I can think of at least 3 games that Brad Miller lost us on defense this year. He won us another 3 at the plate, but he could've done that at DH instead of Chris Epps walking up and striking out. Not all defensive mistakes show up as errors either, such as the first game against Georgia Tech. Clemson entered the CWS ranked 135th in defense with 95 errors (its now 100). Take Miller's 32 errors off and you've got a team just outside of the Top 25 in defense. Cut his number in half, to a more reasonable figure of 16 for a SS, and youre around 70th in defense.

Who is in charge of the infield? Who coaches defense? Jack. Who decided to leave Brad Miller at SS despite an outrageous 32 errors? Miller was BAD last season at short, yet he was WORSE this year. If you say there was no one behind him with range to play short or who may be worse (Stolz, Hinson), then you put the onus on his recruitment at the position. Either way he's responsible.

How does this affect your perception that this team overachieved in the NCAA tournament?

Who here can honestly tell me that Jack will not always be remembered for 2002 and 2010? 17 years of successful baseball and 6 CWS appearances mean absolutely nothing to us if you can't get into the national championship series by defeating the Gamecocks. It is unacceptable.

The only thing that he can do to erase those two memories from our minds is to win a CWS. I knew before the elimination game Saturday that we would lose, and I wager many of you felt the same after seeing our hitters at the plate against a junkballer Friday. I know Jack won't win a CWS for Clemson. He's good but his teams tighten up, he said so himself during the 5-1 loss last week. A team takes on the persona of their coach, and Jack's is to get tense and press when the pressure is up. He could win 50 games next year (and should) yet we won't win a CWS because he can't do it.

And thats why I think Jack should just leave. Maybe he can win his CWS, but it won't be here.

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