By Will Vandervort.
After guiding his Clemson basketball team to the Final Four of the NIT in 2014, Brad Brownell received a six-year contract extension through 2020 which will pay him an average of $1.75 million per year.
It was a statement by athletic director Dan Radakovich that Brownell is his guy. He and Clemson committed to Brownell and his coaching staff, basically showing faith in him and believing he is the guy that can return the Tigers to being a perennial NCAA Tournament team.
Knowing at the time he was already working on plans to build a new $63.5 million basketball arena, Radakovich guaranteed Brownell and his staff they will get the full advantages of recruiting off the new facility, which should turn the fortunes of a program that has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2011.
Why did Radakovich make such a commitment to Brownell’s basketball program?
The Tigers run through the NIT in 2014 showed Brownell, when given a talented player or two and is able to recruit with the same advantages as some of his ACC rivals, can produce a squad that can challenge for an ACC Championship as well as qualify for an NCAA Tournament.
K.J. McDaniels, now playing for the NBA’s Houston Rockets, was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 as well as earning First-Team All-ACC honors. McDaniels, who averaged 17.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, proved Brownell can develop players to the highest level, and, if given some of the same advantages as his competitors, can possibly take Clemson where it has never been before on the basketball court.
This past Monday, the Clemson baseball program qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the 21st time in Jack Leggett’s 22 years as a head coach. The Tigers are one of just 11 programs in the country that have made the NCAA Tournament in each of the last seven seasons.
To qualify for the tournament, Clemson won eight of its last 11 games, including a three-game sweep of then No. 8 Florida State on the road and a victory over No. 3 national seed Louisville in the ACC Tournament.
It was the end to a regular season all fans and administrators like to see from their programs. The Tigers improved as a team as the season went along and put themselves in position to play for a national championship in the process.
If you wanted, you could compare it to what Brownell’s team did in 2014. They rode on the coattails of a star player and made a huge run at the end of the year. The only difference is the baseball program made the NCAA Tournament.
Behind ACC Pitcher of Year Matthew Crownover, the Tigers got hot at the right time and are now headed to California to play in the Fullerton Regional. Clemson, the No. 3 seed in the regional, will face No. 2 Arizona at 6 p.m. on Friday.
With a new $6 million facility expected to be completed in the fall, which will house a new players’ clubhouse, coaches’ offices and a museum, it seems as if Leggett should be receiving a new contract extension, too. Right!? I mean he did just put Clemson in the NCAA Tournament, again.
Granted, the Clemson baseball program has higher expectations than just making the NCAA Tournament each year, but doesn’t the basketball program as well? I’m sure Brownell’s expectations are not to just get in the NCAA Tournament, but make it to the Final Four, too. Right!?
So based on what he has done in the past with the basketball program and the level of commitment and faith the administration has shown in Brownell—and deservedly so—doesn’t it feel right to do the same with Leggett?
Doesn’t a Hall of Fame Coach, who has taken the program within a whisper of winning a national championship just five years ago, deserve a contract extension? Doesn’t a head coach who has coached his team to nine Super Regional appearances deserve an extension? Doesn’t a coach, who has coached his ball club to six College World Series—the equivalent to basketball’s Final Four—deserve the opportunity to continue his career at a school he has given everything to? Doesn’t a coach who has developed 11 first-round draft picks deserve the opportunity to continue his career at Clemson?
Doesn’t Jack Leggett deserve to have the same opportunities to recruit on the same playing field as his competitors, which he has not been able to do since 2011?
Hasn’t Jack Leggett earned the right to recruit off the new facilities that are being built? The same facilities he has been asking to have for nearly 10 years, the same facility that many of his former players gave money for.
In July, Jack Leggett will have one more year remaining on his contract at Clemson, a contract he signed after taking the Tigers to another College World Series in 2010. Hopefully, Clemson is drawing up another contract so he can possibly take the Tigers to the CWS in 2016. That is, of course, if he doesn’t do it in 2015 first. Say what you will, but he is in the NCAA Tournament so he has a chance.
Last time I checked, that’s a whole lot better than the NIT.