Clemson Baseball

Audio Exclusive: Clemson AD Graham Neff

June 27, 2022

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Clemson Director of Athletics Graham Neff discusses the hiring of Erik Bakich and much more in this audio exclusive from Clemson Sports Talk.

Here are a few unedited notes from the audio.

On how the search came together:

"So the proverbial list in the right-hand drawer-- I don't know that I literally have that, or at least had that in baseball. Listen, it is my job to have a really heavy ear to the ground. I had a sense of the landscape, and who is doing well out there. You think through things all the time. By no means do we have that level of specific preparedness for any of our 16 head coaches, but I have to be very attuned to it. Obviously, as you get into seasons, and are tracking things and tracking your program, a lot of due diligence comes into it a whole lot more than just the past 15 days that we had a baseball coach search. Had names had thoughts, Erik Bakich, had been on my list, so to speak again, literally or not, on my mind, certainly, for years, to be quite frank. It was one of those that once you are approaching a decision and then ultimately (you) are in a search process (and) are very well prepared. It's usually not a fresh start unless there was a unique transition because of a leaving or a circumstance of a firing, but that certainly wasn't the case here."

If not making the NCAA Tournament was the difference in Coach Lee still being the head coach:

"Well, you took the word or the phrase out of my mouth a lot and 'razor-thin' and most sports it is. 10-3 is a struggle in football and whereas 13-0 is really, really hard. That's just the difference of a couple of plays here and there, at least for Clemson this past fall. A lot of sports (are) like that, in baseball perhaps even more so just because you can get so hot, so quick, and we're living it, right now. We're here, kind of in the middle of the week of Omaha, and Ole Miss, who was the last, you know, by all measures, I think even gosh, the selection committee as they ranked them said it, Ole Miss was the last team in for the NCAA Tournament in baseball, and very controversially at that I might add, and due to having lost and they're in the driver's seat to get to the national championship series in Omaha. (Note: Ole Miss won the National Title yesterday) 

“So baseball, I feel like as much or more than a lot of other sports, where you can just get hot, right, whether that's college baseball, we see it in MLB, and things like that. I think that there's you look at the totality and the book of business, so to speak with where the program was at, and maybe the trajectory where we're headed. For this year for this, this resume, so to speak, whether it was razor-thin, whether it was a game here or there ACC tournament or not, not sure, obviously, we were on the wrong side of it, but the totality of the evaluation and the comprehensive review of that is certainly how you have to take two steps back and then look to evaluate and make decisions. So that's what we did and obviously, with Coach Lee, just such a first-class person, first of all, and let alone coach and how he's led the program for seven years. It just makes that type of decision that much more difficult when it's a coach that has approached it the way that Monte has for seven years, let alone his professional career. But that to be said, you know, we did chart a new course and couldn't be more excited where we landed with Coach Bakich.”


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Audio Exclusive: Clemson AD Graham Neff

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