Clemson–44-year old Erik Bakich was introduced Thursday as the 28th head baseball coach at Clemson. For the East Carolina grad, it’s a return to his coaching roots. He started his career as a volunteer coach under Jack Leggett in 2002 when the Tigers won 54 games and reached the CWS. Bakich signed a six-year contract that will start at $850-thousand and year and escalate annually to $1.1 million in the final year of the deal.
Bakich spent the last ten seasons as the head coach at Michigan. Prior to that he was the head coach at Maryland and an assistant coach at Vanderbilt under Tim Corbin.
Following the introduction press conference, Bakich talked with SportsTalk and other media members about his return to the Upstate of South Carolina.
Erik Bakich interview
Erik Bakich full press conference
Here’s the official release from Clemson:
Director of Athletics Graham Neff named Erik Bakich as Clemson’s 28th head baseball coach on June 16, 2022. The Clemson University Board of Trustees Compensation Committee approved the measure.
Bakich served as head coach at Michigan the last 10 seasons, leading the Wolverines to the 2019 College World Series championship series. Bakich also served as a head coach at Maryland (2010-12) and as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt (2003-09) along with his one year as volunteer assistant coach at Clemson in 2002.
“We are delighted to welcome Erik, Jiffy and their three children back to the Clemson Family,” said Neff. “Erik impressed us with his integrity, his approach to running a program and the emphasis he puts into the student-athlete experience. He knows well the expectations at Clemson, which he contributed to, through his role within the 2002 team and working alongside Jack Leggett, Tim Corbin and Kevin O’Sullivan, among others. I am confident in Erik’s ability to compete for ACC Championships and return to Omaha, and do it the right way.”
Bakich was the consensus national coach of the year in 2019, when he led Michigan to an NCAA runner-up finish and a 50-22 record. He also led it to the NCAA Tournament in 2015, 2017, 2021 and 2022, meaning five of his last seven teams (excluding 2020) advanced to the national tournament. Bakich guided the Wolverines to Big Ten Tournament titles in 2015 and 2022 as well.
“Our family is thrilled to join the Clemson Athletics family and immerse ourselves in the local community,” said Bakich. “It was an honor to wear the Clemson uniform 20 years ago as a young coach on Jack Leggett’s staff. I am forever grateful and very appreciative for the opportunity to start coaching at Clemson surrounded by three Hall of Famers and a record-setting team. It is a privilege to serve as a steward of this storied tradition and help lead Clemson Baseball back to prominence competing for ACC Championships, trips to Omaha and our first National Championship.”
Bakich is no stranger to the ACC, as he served three seasons as head coach at Maryland. In 2012, he led the Terrapins to a 32-24 record, a 15-win improvement from his first season in College Park.
Prior to his three years at Maryland, Bakich was an assistant coach at Vanderbilt under Head Coach Tim Corbin, who was an assistant coach at Clemson from 1994-02. Vanderbilt had a 276-157 record in his seven seasons (2003-09) in Nashville.
Bakich served as recruiting coordinator for the Commodores, helping sign some of the nation’s top recruits, including No. 1 overall draft pick David Price. All seven of his recruiting classes were ranked in the top 25, including the top-rated class in 2005 and the No. 2 class in 2008.
The 44 year old began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant coach under Head Coach Jack Leggett and alongside Corbin and Kevin O’Sullivan at Clemson in 2002, when he worked with the Tiger outfielders and infielders. The Tigers had a 54-17 record and advanced to the College World Series with the likes of national player of the year Khalil Greene, Jeff Baker and Michael Johnson, who combined for 77 home runs.
Bakich started his playing career at San Jose (Calif.) City College, then he transferred to East Carolina to play two seasons (1999,00) under late Head Coach Keith LeClair, whom Leggett coached when LeClair played at Western Carolina. The Pirates won back-to-back CAA titles and earned No. 1 seeds in NCAA Regionals both years and was named to the 1999 Baton Rouge Regional all-tournament team. The outfielder hit .315 with 14 home runs and 85 RBIs in two seasons.
He graduated from East Carolina in 2000 with a degree in exercise & sport science. He then played two years (2000,01) professionally in multiple independent leagues. After his playing career, Bakich returned to East Carolina, where he served as an assistant strength & conditioning coach for one year.
He was born Erik Michael Bakich on Nov. 27, 1977 in San Jose, Calif. He graduated from Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose in 1996. He and his wife, Jiffy, have two sons, Colt and Beau, and a daughter, Tempie.