After holding the position for a month, the Michigan baseball team’s new coach finally got to hold his first press conference.
Michigan coach Tracy Smith took the podium this week for a press conference where he had the opportunity to express his goals for the season.
Before taking over the head coach position for the Wolverines, Smith was let go from Arizona State in 2021. That time away from coaching, though, helped him gain clarity on his love of coaching.
“I understand why people in education take sabbaticals because it allows you to kind of chill out a little bit and reassess your life,” Smith said. “I didn’t get out of baseball, I was still involved in things. But from the coaching perspective, if you look at just personally what I’ve done in my career, I felt like I’ve done darn near everything. So for me, where I was at 56 years old, I was comfortable in life.”
But for anyone bitten by the baseball bug, they can’t stay away forever. And for Smith, he wanted back in. But it had to be the right situation.
Smith shed light on some of the backroom discussions that took place during the coaching search process, including speaking with former Michigan coach Erik Bakich before the position was open.
“Erik and I, we were in contact with each other three or four times a week,” Smith said. “And this was (before he left) … the only team I really followed this year was the University of Michigan.
“I would always check the scores and follow when I could watch the team because he was coaching. So I had a little bit of knowledge (about) what was going on with the team and the personnel.”
Because of this, Smith appeared comfortable with the state of the program, saying he does not want to change much from the program Bakich left behind. He noted that his first priority was getting the players from last season back on the team to stabilize the program and build from that foundation.
For Smith, inheriting a program that he wants to build up — and build to last — means trusting the process and not rushing things.
“(The coaches and I) talked about sustainable success,” Smith said. “Let’s not make quick decisions and try to fill (the roster) and not be what really aligns with what we want on the field at the University. We’re going to take our time and not going to panic.”
And with key players returning, Smith could put his plan to work.
“Everybody talks about winning a national championship, but I think you have a realistic chance to do that here by the support that’s given to the program,” Smith said. “I think recent history speaks to that.”
Smith noted that the one accolade he has yet to accomplish is winning a national championship. At Michigan, he believes it is possible and it should be the goal every year for the program.
It is hard to anticipate how this season will go for Smith and the Wolverines, but it will serve as a foundation for his lofty plans.