Clemson's baseball future and the power of words: Has Jack said too much already?

The Clemson Sports Blog

Back in happier days, Clemson coach Jack Leggett claps to fans after beating Florida State during the 2010 season.

Back in happier days, Clemson coach Jack Leggett claps to fans after beating Florida State during the 2010 season.

Having talked his way into a corner, one has to wonder if Jack Leggett will be able to talk his way out?

When Leggett meets with Dan Radakovich this week to discuss the future of the Clemson baseball program, there will more than plenty of substantive, quantifiable issues on the table.

NCAA tournament success has slumped, as has long-term performance against the Clemson's top-tier, every-year opponents - South Carolina, Virginia, Florida State and North Carolina.

For the first time in two decades, a four-year class of Tigers has come and gone without making a trip to Omaha.

Facilities have been allowed to fall behind, again against the competition that matters most; and that, in turn, arguably has adversely affected and continues to affect recruiting. An upgrade project envisioned by Leggett and program supporters nearly a decade ago has been slow in coming to fruition, while other athletic facility projects have been fast-tracked.

So there is room for discussion that both the coaching staff and the administration share responsibility for the indisputable decline.

There will also be an elephant in the room, however, when Radakovich and Leggett meet - something I've been pondering since Larry Williams raised the point in a thoughtful analysis piece posted on Tiger Illustrated.

This season isn't the first time that Leggett has testily defended his program against critics. But it's the first time he's done it in such a public, and seemingly intentional way.

His comments during the last month of the season, as the Tigers struggled for their NCAA lives, seemed to be an in-your-face affront to habitually disappointed Clemson fans who gave up on the season and stopped coming to games.

Leggett's comments may have been designed to fire up his team, putting them into a backs-against-the-wall, us-against-them mentality.

But when the 'them' in the equation is the legion of fans who passionately follow Clemson baseball, Leggett may have misfired badly.

In this situation, the power of perception can hardly be overstated. The fans, by and large, have expressed their take - and it doesn't trend in Leggett's favor.

Radakovich has so far kept his own perception to himself. But the fact that he chose to issue a rather carefully-worded statement Sunday afternoon, immediately after the Tigers' weekend debacle in Nashville, shows, at the very least, that baseball has his attention.

My gut says that Leggett's tenure at Clemson hangs in the balance when he and Radakovich meet this week. And that Leggett's attitude in that meeting will go a long way toward determining its outcome.

In a weekend blog, I expressed my personal preference - that Clemson find a way to give Leggett a final chance to right the ship, or, at least, to retire with the dignity and positive recognition that he deserves.

Almost unanimously, those who've responded or commented have respectfully and thoughtfully (mostly) disagreed, expressing the opinion that Leggett has already had ample time to right the ship, the decline has been long-term, and it's time for a change.

Were coaching decisions democratically decided by a fan vote, Leggett's cause would almost undoubtedly already be lost.

Words have power. And it's plain that Clemson fans, by and large, don't like what they've heard. And that Leggett now has the new AD's ear, for better or worse.

Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc

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Comments » 14

SoCalTiger writes:

They are more likely to do to Leggett what they did to Brownell - give him a contract extension and hope for the best.

35802tiger writes:

I believe you have accurately captured the fan sentiment. I believe that Jack's arrogance, egotism, and disdain for the fan base has alienated the lion's share of Tiger fans as well as many high school coaches. One of the more ludicrous statements he made was that 5% of the fans would always be displeased! I believe the percent would be quite a bit higher.

kellytown writes:

I believe its 95% of fans are ready to see a change. Maybe 5% keep him.

brookesdad729 writes:

It's time for a change! Jack's time in Tigertown has run its course. There are a couple of guys I'd like to see in that position.Virginia's pitching coach Karl Kuhn or Monte Lee are 2 guys that come to mind for me. Why am I so hung up on Karl Kuhn? This is why: Since 2005 Virginia boasts the lowest cumulative earned run average in the nation (3.16). That's a good record to boast about and he wouldn't cost as much as taking say a head coach from another program I don't believe. Monte Lee might be a longshot because C of C is his alma mater but we know that money talks too. Any other thoughts in case they do decide to "retire" Jack? That would be the honorable thing to do.

fasttiger44#293363 writes:

It's my understanding Jack has two years left on a contract with a base salary of $416,000. If he gets fired, Clemson has to pay that one year as a buyout. From an economic point of view, it's a no brainer. You keep him and let the chips fall where they fall. He may bring the team back to another powerhouse like we use to be. If not, then you do not renew his contract and he's gone. Two more years in the grand scheme of things isn't a big deal. Give him a chance to get us back on top or let him go but not now. As much as they (Clemson University) poor mouths about being broke save the $416,000 and sit back and see if he brings them back to what we are all use to seeing when they play those great teams. He may surprise us all and take us back to Omaha next year.

KIMOSAMI (Inactive) writes:

Jack Leggett has produced some good teams here at Clemson. He's done....overall, an outstanding job. He's had, literally, a Hall of Fame career.

The last couple years,,, and especially this year... haven't been good. We've lost to Carolina too much lately. Three times this year alone. That is what matters most. Let's be honest.

But to fire someone who has done so much good is bad medicine. That said, Clemson has too much tradition to let the slide continue much longer. That's a given.

But let's not forget: Jack Leggett is responsible to a very large degree for a very large portion of that good tradition.

I think he deserves a chance to get things back on track. He has a good team coming back next year. Those men came to Clemson to play for Jack Leggett. I think they will come through for him.

fasttiger44#293363 writes:

in response to KIMOSAMI:

Jack Leggett has produced some good teams here at Clemson. He's done....overall, an outstanding job. He's had, literally, a Hall of Fame career.

The last couple years,,, and especially this year... haven't been good. We've lost to Carolina too much lately. Three times this year alone. That is what matters most. Let's be honest.

But to fire someone who has done so much good is bad medicine. That said, Clemson has too much tradition to let the slide continue much longer. That's a given.

But let's not forget: Jack Leggett is responsible to a very large degree for a very large portion of that good tradition.

I think he deserves a chance to get things back on track. He has a good team coming back next year. Those men came to Clemson to play for Jack Leggett. I think they will come through for him.

I agree with what you say totally. And coupled with his contract it just seems to me like Clemson would be jumping the gun to let him go. He deserves to stay until his contract is over and then let's rethink everything. Who knows we could win it all next year. Remember '80 in football? We were not a good team and what happened the next year?

lwb1946 writes:

No, it's time for Jack to go. He is set for life financially if he never coaches again but anybody that can't see that our program has been steadily going down the last several years isn't looking very hard. And, we were totally embarrassed in the Tournament this last week. And, it's not just this year it's the last several years. This is kinda like Tommy Bowden. A lot of people didn't want to let Tommy go but it was plain to see that Tommy was not going to get us were we needed to go. This is the same thing with Leggett. Clemson needs to make a change plain and simple and start rebuilding our Base Ball Program.

TigerNE writes:

Everybody keeps falling back to a Bowden comparison about where we are in baseball and with Leggett's performance. I just don't see it as a valid comparison. Bowden had some good seasons but never delivered what Leggett has delivered nor for as long.

Pulling the plug on Bowden was an easier choice and one with less repercussions to a small degree.

I think the guess that Leggett gets at least one more year it the more accurate one. And from what I'm reading in the social media world there's likely to be at least on sacrificial lamb to shake things up a little. Pepicelli? I don't know. We'll see.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to brookesdad729:

It's time for a change! Jack's time in Tigertown has run its course. There are a couple of guys I'd like to see in that position.Virginia's pitching coach Karl Kuhn or Monte Lee are 2 guys that come to mind for me. Why am I so hung up on Karl Kuhn? This is why: Since 2005 Virginia boasts the lowest cumulative earned run average in the nation (3.16). That's a good record to boast about and he wouldn't cost as much as taking say a head coach from another program I don't believe. Monte Lee might be a longshot because C of C is his alma mater but we know that money talks too. Any other thoughts in case they do decide to "retire" Jack? That would be the honorable thing to do.

Karl Kuhn isn't the reason for UVa baseball. It's John Grisham. He and other donors have poured a TON of money into baseball at UVa. Meanwhile you've even got Mr. Capps here saying that Clemson's facilities aren't up to snuff for a program with CWS aspirations. Leggett doesn't have the facilities advantage he once had and that's why recruiting has suffered. The 1 rule to college sports is that you don't win without players and you don't get players without facilities.

You can fire Leggett and bring in Kuhn but the results are going to be the same or worse unless Kuhn brings John Grisham's checkbook.

Sal#288333 writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

Karl Kuhn isn't the reason for UVa baseball. It's John Grisham. He and other donors have poured a TON of money into baseball at UVa. Meanwhile you've even got Mr. Capps here saying that Clemson's facilities aren't up to snuff for a program with CWS aspirations. Leggett doesn't have the facilities advantage he once had and that's why recruiting has suffered. The 1 rule to college sports is that you don't win without players and you don't get players without facilities.

You can fire Leggett and bring in Kuhn but the results are going to be the same or worse unless Kuhn brings John Grisham's checkbook.

That is total BS Dabo, They are winning because of great coaching not John Grisham .All of Grisham's money can't buy players. Clemson's facilities are better than UVA's so your statement doesn't quite hold water. The recruiting has suffered because everyone wants to go to the best team in SC ,USC.
you also said "You can fire Leggett and bring in Kuhn but the results are going to be the same or worse". As in the same do you mean the same as they were the last four yrs., Seems as though you don't believe either. wait till next season when those new baseballs go flying out of Jacks new Little League field ,that will be something else Big Jack can blame on the 5%. everyone, like him or not has got to be tired of his constant whining it embarrasses the team and the school.

33dtb writes:

in response to fasttiger44#293363:

It's my understanding Jack has two years left on a contract with a base salary of $416,000. If he gets fired, Clemson has to pay that one year as a buyout. From an economic point of view, it's a no brainer. You keep him and let the chips fall where they fall. He may bring the team back to another powerhouse like we use to be. If not, then you do not renew his contract and he's gone. Two more years in the grand scheme of things isn't a big deal. Give him a chance to get us back on top or let him go but not now. As much as they (Clemson University) poor mouths about being broke save the $416,000 and sit back and see if he brings them back to what we are all use to seeing when they play those great teams. He may surprise us all and take us back to Omaha next year.

......" If not, then you do not renew his contract and he's gone.".....

Just don't do like we did with the "late/great TB" and extend and then fire him.....

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to Sal#288333:

That is total BS Dabo, They are winning because of great coaching not John Grisham .All of Grisham's money can't buy players. Clemson's facilities are better than UVA's so your statement doesn't quite hold water. The recruiting has suffered because everyone wants to go to the best team in SC ,USC.
you also said "You can fire Leggett and bring in Kuhn but the results are going to be the same or worse". As in the same do you mean the same as they were the last four yrs., Seems as though you don't believe either. wait till next season when those new baseballs go flying out of Jacks new Little League field ,that will be something else Big Jack can blame on the 5%. everyone, like him or not has got to be tired of his constant whining it embarrasses the team and the school.

Really? Do you know how bad the UVa baseball program was before John Grisham wrote checks? That the stadium didn't have lights? That the infield had artificial turf brought in from an old football facility that you could see the yard lines when it rained? That UVa was even considering eliminating baseball altogether? So don't tell me John Grisham's money can't buy players. No decent player is going to play at a place like UVa pre-Grisham no matter who the coach is.

The only thing embarrassing is that a school like Clemson that supposedly loves their baseball has dragged out facility projects that were planned nearly a decade ago. You're going to need that no matter who the coach is. You may have better facilities than UVa but not by much and certainly not by as much as you once did. The same can be said for UNC.

Sal#288333 writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

Really? Do you know how bad the UVa baseball program was before John Grisham wrote checks? That the stadium didn't have lights? That the infield had artificial turf brought in from an old football facility that you could see the yard lines when it rained? That UVa was even considering eliminating baseball altogether? So don't tell me John Grisham's money can't buy players. No decent player is going to play at a place like UVa pre-Grisham no matter who the coach is.

The only thing embarrassing is that a school like Clemson that supposedly loves their baseball has dragged out facility projects that were planned nearly a decade ago. You're going to need that no matter who the coach is. You may have better facilities than UVa but not by much and certainly not by as much as you once did. The same can be said for UNC.

Like I said they are winning... UVA because of great coaching not money .

and again you don't know what you are talking about. they do not have facilities where kids are breaking down the doors to get in. it's a simple baseball field with the old wooden bleachers in the outfield.

" No decent player is going to play at a place like UVa pre-Grisham no matter who the coach is."...............B.S.
if you are football Dabo then you are right about players and money, that's ALL they are about . But kids are going to go where there is a winning tradition not plush facilities.

you and Big Jack must be a material people Dabo !!!

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