The Wolverine

August 2022*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 55 of 59

56 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2022 BY CHRIS BALAS A f te r l ea d i n g M i c h i ga n baseball to a second Big Ten Tournament title in four years, head coach Erik Bakich left the program to accept the head coaching job at Clemson, where he served as an assis- tant in the early 2000s. The Tigers hired him away June 16 to replace Monte Lee, who was fired after missing the NCAA Tournament for two seasons. The Tigers weren't the only ones he was flirting with, per reports. reported Bakich talked with Southern California, as well, before ultimately agreeing upon a deal with the Tigers. The Detroit News reported he told his players he "loved them" before departing. "Relationships transcend geography and location. … It doesn't mean I love them any less and I won't continue to be in their lives," Bakich said. "Just because I'm not there doesn't mean I'm not with them or not speaking with them or not involved with them. I hope to be at all their wed- dings someday. "That's the hardest part of leaving, the players you are leaving and the re- lationships. It's important to continue those." Bakich reportedly signed a six-year contract worth $850,000 in salary in the first year (plus a $400,000 signing bonus) and up to $1.1 million by the final year. He was making just over $500,000 a year at Michigan. Bakich was the consensus national coach of the year in 2019, when he led Michigan to an NCAA runner-up fin- ish and a 50-22 record. He also led the Wolverines to the NCAA Tournament in 2015, 2017, 2021 and 2022, meaning five of his last seven teams (excluding 2020) advanced to the national tournament. He guided the Wolverines to Big Ten Tournament titles in 2015 and 2022 as well. This year's team stunned the field to win it and took Louisville to the NCAA regional final before losing in controversial fashion in the champion- ship game. In his place, Michigan athletics direc- tor Warde Manuel hired a familiar face in Big Ten baseball circles in Tracy Smith. Though names like Chris Fetter (former Michigan pitcher, Bakich assistant and current Detroit Tigers pitching coach) and others surfaced, Smith got the nod. He last coached at Arizona State after a successful stint at Indiana, though he didn't coach during the 2022 season. "Succinctly put, Tracy is one of the best collegiate baseball minds in the country," Manuel said. "He is a tireless recruiter who can evaluate, project, and develop talent at the highest level of this sport." Smith has been a college head coach for 25 years, having won 805 games while developing 90 MLB Draft picks, including seven first-rounders. The Detroit Tigers' 2020 No. 1 overall pick, Spencer Torkelson, is among them. Smith also has coached seven USA Baseball Collegiate National Team picks and is one of eight coaches to lead three different Division I schools to the NCAA Tournament. Smith notched a 202-155 ove ra l l re c o rd d u r i n g h i s seven-year tenure at Arizona State. Before that, he earned National Coach of the Year and Big Ten Coach of the Year hon- ors in 2013 after leading Indi- ana to the school's only Men's College World Series appear- ance in a 49-win campaign. The Hoosiers followed that performance with 44 victories in 2014 before Smith moved west to ASU. Smith led his alma mater, Miami (Ohio), for nine seasons before heading to Indiana. There, he guided back-to- back Big Ten championships for the first time in school history. The Hoosiers' title in 2013 was the school's first since 1949 and its first outright confer- ence crown since 1932, leading to a No. 4 national seed, the first national seed in Big Ten history. "My family and I are proud to join the University of Michigan family, and this storied Michigan baseball program," Smith said in the university's release. "Having competed on the field against the likes of [former Wolverines greats] Barry Larkin, Jim Abbott, Casey Close and many others, I am aware of the tre- mendous talent and tradition of this program. "I would like to thank Warde Man- uel, [associate A.D.] Rob Rademacher, the staff and our student-athletes for allowing me the opportunity to build upon the history of U-M baseball and the recent successes of my friend and colleague Erik Bakich. The standards in the Big Ten Conference and at the University of Michigan are set high, and I am honored to lead our next group of champions." ❏ Smith has been a college head coach for 25 years, having compiled an 805-612-1 record while developing 90 Major League Baseball draft picks, including seven first-rounders. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETICS Michigan Hires Tracy Smith As Baseball Head Coach After Erik Bakich Leaves For Clemson

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - August 2022*