Bakich: 'We have to have Coach Leggett involved in this program'

Bakich: 'We have to have Coach Leggett involved in this program'


Bakich: 'We have to have Coach Leggett involved in this program'


When Erik Bakich first arrived at Clemson, he was a 24-year-old volunteer assistant coach, who got paid in Gatorade bars in T-shirts.

Jack Leggett took a chance on Bakich, as a favor to one of his former players at Western Carolina, Keith LeClair, who was suffering from ALS at the time.

“I didn’t know Erik, but I trusted my friend and I owed him a lot,” Leggett recalled. “I took Erik and its worked out unbelievably. We’ve had a great friendship for over 20 years and we have another 20 years to go, I hope.”

“Coach Leggett, who’s here today, instilled the importance of good fundamentals and instilled foundational life skills like toughness, discipline, competing and having relentless positive energy and doing it all with an absolutely unmatched care level,” Bakich said during his introductory press conference. “Thank you for giving me a shot.”

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 under Leggett in 2002, when the Tigers had a 54-17 record and advanced to the College World Series.

20 years later, Bakich is getting a different kind of shot.

It was an opportunity that Leggett didn’t think Bakich would get. Not because he wasn’t deserving, but more so that Leggett thought he’d still be at Clemson.

Thursday was a rewarding moment for Leggett, who hadn’t stepped foot in Clemson’s baseball facilities in nearly seven years. 

“It makes me feel welcomed back because I know the hands that the program is in now and I feel good about it,” Leggett said. “I’ve been welcomed by him and Graham (Neff), which has been very special for me the last few months. I feel good about it. I feel really good about it.”

Leggett would love to be back in some capacity, but the former legendary coach said that the decision would be in Bakich’s hands. Conversations will be had, but from every indication, Bakich gave during his introductory press conference, the feeling about Leggett being back around the program seems mutual.

“Whatever capacity that I can help or lend to him and his program, I’m willing to do,” Leggett added. “It’s really up to Erik and what the rules allow and what he has planned for me. If anything, it’s gonna be up to him. But, I do love Clemson baseball and I miss it. I’m just glad to be welcomed back into the facility and into the program.

“It means a lot to me and it means a lot to my players. The amount of texts I’ve gotten over the past four-to-five days has been unbelievable. They feel good that I’ve been included in some way. I think Graham for that and his leadership and Erik as well.”

“He’s an unbelievable resource and he’s a great friend and he’s a great mentor,” Bakich said. “And he’s been a great mentor, ever since I worked for him 20 years ago…we have to have Coach Leggett involved in this program and around our players and the energy he brings. Whatever capacity that is or whatever title that is, I don’t know, but I just know the program will be better with his energy involved.”

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