Before Tim Corbin took the helm at Vanderbilt and turned the baseball program into a national power, he coached nine seasons at Clemson on Jack Leggett’s staff while establishing himself as one of the most respected assistants in the country.
Fifteen years after leaving Clemson in 2002, Corbin is back home as a head coach. Vanderbilt is the No. 2 seed in the Clemson Regional, which starts on Friday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
“When they said Clemson, it was a nice feeling,” Corbin said during his press conference on Thursday. “It’s good to get back here.”
For Corbin, the return to Clemson brings back fond memories, both as a person and coach.
Off the field, Corbin married his wife, Maggie, on campus at the Madren Conference Center and raised his daughters in Clemson.
On the field, from 1994-2002, Corbin helped the Tigers win more than 71 percent of their games (434 wins, 172 losses) and two ACC regular season titles. Clemson appeared in the NCAA Tournament in all nine of Corbin’s seasons at Clemson, made it to six Super Regionals and reached the College World Series four times.
“There’s just certain things that I remember here,” Corbin said. “Just a lot of good memories of big games here. … There is some charm to it.”
Above all, though, Clemson reminds Corbin of Leggett.
“Jack is why I’m coaching at this level,” Corbin said. “He gave me the opportunity, and I’ll always be grateful for him. He’s such a fantastic guy, and one of my best friends. We talk a lot. So, being back here, it just brings back memories of Jack to me more than anything else.”
Corbin is excited about the chance to see and spend time with his close friend again.
“He gets in tonight,” Corbin said. “He’s been traveling, but I’ve been talking to him quite a bit. Hopefully I’ll get to spend some time with him tomorrow night. Our daughters are coming in, so hopefully we’ll get with him.”
Corbin has brought the winning ways from Clemson to Vanderbilt. Now in his 15th season as Vanderbilt’s skipper, Corbin is second all-time in terms of wins with the program and first in terms of winning percentage for coaches with 100 games or more. In 2014, he led the Commodores past Virginia for their first national championship.
This marks the first time in five years that Vanderbilt has not hosted a regional. The Commodores last went on the road in 2012 as the No. 2 seed in the Raleigh Regional.
Vanderbilt begins play in the Clemson Regional against No. 3 St. John’s at noon on Friday, while Clemson will face No. 4 seed UNC Greensboro in its opening game at 7 p.m. tomorrow.
If the two teams win and match up on Saturday, Corbin will have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
“We’re here for a reason, and that’s because Clemson is hosting because they’ve played good baseball,” Corbin said. “I’m certainly aware of a lot of their players and coach Bradley LeCroy, I know Monte (Lee) very well. So, I still have an affinity for this place.”