NASHVILLE, Tenn. - As promised, Jack Leggett has been called into the boss' office.
Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich has not made any changes, but swore to scrutinize the baseball program with a released statement Sunday, the day after the Tigers' season ended in the NCAA regional round for the fourth consecutive year. Leggett's team, ranked No. 13 in the preseason Baseball America poll, finished just 36-25.
"This baseball season did not end as we all had hoped," Radakovich said in the statement. "I will be speaking with Jack in the next few days to talk about the path ahead for our program. While we again advanced to the NCAA tournament, we can and will look to do more."
Clemson's 39 NCAA tournament berths ranks fifth nationally, and Leggett stands as the fifth-winningest active Division I coach with his 1,300 career victories. He was inducted to the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame Jan. 3, and has six College World Series appearances to his name.
But for the first time in his 21 seasons at Clemson, Leggett has failed to reach Omaha, Neb., four consecutive years, without so much as becoming one of the top 16 teams standing.
"There's not many schools in the country who can say that," Leggett said Saturday. "That's something we've been proud of. It is unfortunate. I would have loved to have seen our seniors get to Omaha. I'm disappointed for them.
"But there's not many schools you'd be interviewing right now, wondering why it didn't happen. We've just got to get back at it again next year and try to get this next group of seniors out there."
Clemson is 5-10 in the NCAA tournament since Game 3 of the 2010 College World Series; the timing hasn't been great, as rival South Carolina has been 28-6 with two titles in the meantime.
The adage "the higher you climb, the harder the fall" applies. Leggett set a high bar for himself replacing Bill Wilhelm by making two College World Series in his first three years, buoyed by a 12-6 postseason record. He's 68-43 in 20 NCAA tournaments leading Clemson.
"We have to maintain that upward trajectory," Radakovich told The Post and Courier on May 21. "We need to make sure that we're doing what we can, administratively, to give our baseball program the opportunity to be successful."
That didn't happen in 2014, as Clemson quietly bowed out 18-1 to Oregon and 6-4 to bottom regional seed Xavier in the Nashville regional.
"I'm disappointed for our team," Leggett said. "We just didn't play well enough this weekend to deserve to stay, to be honest with you. We just didn't do enough good things offensively, pitching, defensively. Somehow, we just didn't come here and play our best baseball."
Asked Sunday if he was fully confident he'd return in 2015, Leggett said, "I'd like to tell you that's a ridiculous question" based on his longtime credentials. He added "I would hope so" when inquired if he thought he was fully supported by the Clemson athletic department.
Leggett still strongly believes the future is bright for Clemson baseball.
"I haven't lost any confidence in anything that we do. Everybody looks at our program as (sitting) on the outside looking in," Leggett said. "Five percent of your fan base is always unhappy about something, but people who know what our baseball program is all about and the people who look at our baseball program from the outside, those that know college baseball, know that Clemson's got a strong, traditional, prideful baseball program."
As The Post and Courier reported May 22, Leggett has two years left on his contract that pays him $400,000 per year in base and supplemental salary (before incentives). Firing Leggett this week would cost Clemson a buyout of roughly $416,666, essentially costing the athletic department one year's salary to usher in Clemson's third head coach since 1957.
Clemson AD Dan Radakovich, left, will speak with baseball coach Jack Leggett this week about the future of the program. (AP Photo/Anderson Independent-Mail, Mark Crammer)×
Clemson finished 36-25 under coach Jack Leggett this season.×
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