After the somewhat surprising move of firing Monte Lee, it appears that tomorrow afternoon Clemson will be naming Michigan’s Erik Bakich as the new head baseball coach. D1 Baseball’s Kendall Rogers began reporting this last night, and while we’ll have to wait to get the official word for tomorrow, this seems like it’s pretty much set.
So, who is Erik Bakich? Well, he played his college ball at San Jose Community College before coming to the Carolinas to finish his career out with East Carolina. He then tried his hand as a player in Independent ball before winding up as a volunteer assistant on Jack Leggett’s 2002 staff. He then followed fellow Clemson assistant Tim Corbin to Vanderbilt where he was a part of the building of what we now know as an elite Vandy program. He left to be the head coach of Maryland prior to Vandy’s titles, but was a part of recruiting in those early years that helped build the foundation for the program. His two seasons with Maryland aren’t super impressive but it seems that he was a big help in reshaping the attitude around Terp baseball, which we now see flourishing as they hosted their first regional this season.
Bakich then left Maryland to take over Michigan’s baseball team. In 2015 he got the Wolverines back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008, and in 2019 got them back to the College World Series for the first time since 1984. In 2019 he was named NCBWA Coach of the Year and won the Skip Bertman award.
Personally, I think this is a good move. He was able to take Michigan to new heights despite the disadvantages of Big Ten baseball. He has a connection to the program and understands what we expect. I also hope that bringing a former Leggett assistant back into the fold, along with the departure of Dan Radakovich, who fired Jack Leggett, can help the program mend fences with Jack. I think Jack’s input and guidance can be useful to the program, even if he isn’t the one leading it.
This is a really needed shot in the arm. Two Tigers players, Dylan Brewer and Jonathan French, have announced their intentions to transfer to South Carolina. Personally, I don’t know their motivation for that, but I would make a large wager that it is due to the firing of Monte Lee. I don’t know who else will leave, but I think naming a coach sooner rather than later can help temper players wanting to leave, along with allowing us all to take the step forward instead of sitting in limbo for much longer as the college baseball postseason begins its final stage with the College World Series beginning this week.