Clemson is one of the 10 best jobs in college baseball, owing to the four factors that go into making a consistently elite program: tradition, facility, fan support throughout the season and recruiting base.
Only nine other schools can win the same argument: South Carolina, LSU, Florida State, Mississippi State, Texas, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Arizona State and Arizona.
Which is why Clemson Athletic Director Dan Radakovich cannot settle for less than a home run as he works this week to replace Jack Leggett with his goal of “new momentum.”
Radakovich is looking for Clemson’s third head coach since 1958. Fans want someone who can get the Tigers to Super Regionals, not squeeze into a regional far away from the friendly confines of Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Forget Tim Corbin, head coach of defending national champion Vanderbilt, and Kevin O’Sullivan, head coach of possible 2015 champion (and 2016 preseason No. 1) Florida. The former Clemson assistant coaches are Leggett loyalists.
Bobby Cox probably isn’t willing to make a comeback.
Elite options remain:
Current job: Louisville head coach
Plus: Eight NCAA Tournament appearances, five Super Regionals and three College World Series in his eight seasons at Louisville; New York native is a former Citadel player (member of 1990 College World Series team) and recruiting coordinator; also an assistant coach at Ole Miss.
Current job: College of Charleston head coach
Plus: Four NCAA Tournament berths in his seven seasons at College of Charleston, including a 2014 Super Regional; five NCAA Tournament wins over the last two years; standout recruiter helped build South Carolina’s back-to-back College World Series championship teams; an S.C. native and former College of Charleston player.
Minus: Tiger fans would have to accept that Lee was a Gamecock assistant coach and likes Ray Tanner, trivial matters unless Clemson struggles early.
Current job: TCU head coach
Plus: Has led the Horned Frogs to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances in 12 years and is back in the College World Series for the third time; worked one season (1993) under the late Bill Wilhelm at Clemson; Elon graduate.
Minus: Hard to find.
Current job: Maryland head coach
Plus: Szefc (pronounced Chef) has taken the Terrapins to two Super Regionals in his three seasons at Maryland, winning regionals at South Carolina in 2014 and UCLA in 2015; longtime assistant coach at Louisiana-Lafayette and Kansas State; head coach at Marist (four NCAA regionals in seven years from 1996-2002).
Minus: Lacks Palmetto State ties.
Current job: Double-A Portland Sea Dogs manager
Plus: Former Clemson player spent six seasons as a Major League player and is in his sixth year as a manager in the Boston Red Sox farm system; on track to become a big-league manager; Bishopville High School graduate.
Minus: No college coaching experience.
Current job: West Virginia head coach
Plus: One of Bill Wilhelm’s favorite Clemson players; led Charleston Southern to its only NCAA Tournament appearance (1996); took East Carolina to three NCAA Tournament appearances in three seasons before he was fired; assistant coach at TCU for seven years before getting the West Virginia job.
Minus: West Virginia in Mazey’s three seasons: 33-26 in 2013, 28-26 in 2014 27-27 in 2015; will have to explain his mysterious ECU dismissal; leading advocate of moving the college baseball season to the summer might have to reverse his stance once back in the real South.
Current job: Clemson interim head coach
Plus: Relentless Clemson recruiter and former Tiger player has also worked at Tennessee and Western Carolina; has boosted in-state recruiting efforts while maintaining Clemson’s strong ties to metro Atlanta, the nation’s richest recruiting pool.
Minus: Hasn’t been a head coach beyond the American Legion level; some fans might want a clean break from Leggett; ideally retained as recruiting coordinator.
Current job: Television analyst
Plus: Three College World Series appearances (runner-up to Fresno State in 2008) and five NCAA Tournament trips in 12 seasons at Georgia.
Minus: 160-189-1 in SEC play; fired in 2013.
Current job: Washington Nationals bullpen coach
Plus: Former Clemson catcher and 1996 Olympian played eight seasons in the majors (no relation to Bradley LeCroy); has been a minor league manager at Class A and double-A levels; on track to become a big-league manager.
Minus: No college coaching experience.
Current job: Central Florida head coach
Plus: The former Radford pitcher is an ace recruiter who has led UCF to two NCAA Tournament appearances (2011 and 2012) since taking the job in 2008. Was an assistant coach at LSU and Notre Dame under Paul Mainieri.
Minus: Missed the NCAA Tournament the last three seasons.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff