After two weeks of searching, the Michigan baseball team has found an answer to its vacant head coach position.
On Saturday, Kendall Rogers reported that the Wolverines hired former Arizona State coach Tracy Smith, who was fired by the Sun Devils after the 2021-22 season, to be their next head coach.
After Michigan’s former coach, Erik Bakich, took a position at Clemson, rumors began to swirl of potential candidates for the position. During that time, the Wolverines endured additional setbacks as 10 players entered the transfer portal and nine recruits rescinded their commitments.
But after a long search by Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel, Smith was hired.
“We are excited to welcome Tracy Smith, his wife, Jaime, and their family, to U-M to lead our baseball program,” Manuel said. “Succinctly put, Tracy is one of the best collegiate baseball minds in the country. He is a tireless recruiter who can evaluate, project, and develop talent at the highest level of this sport.”
Smith played at Miami University (OH) from 1985-88 and was drafted in the 1988 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs, the system he played in from 1988-90. After his three-year stint in the minors, Smith shifted his focus to coaching, starting at the junior college level as the head coach of Miami-Middletown for two seasons. From there, he went back to his alma mater as the hitting coach before being promoted to head coach in 1997 for the RedHawks. With Miami, Smith led the RedHawks to nine MAC Tournaments (top four in the conference) and two NCAA Tournament appearances in 2000 and 2005. Most notably, he coached a Miami team that set the then-NCAA record for most runs in an NCAA tournament game when it beat Quinnipiac 35-8 in an elimination game.
After his success with the RedHawks, Smith went to Indiana University in 2005. With the Hoosiers, he led Indiana to its first Big Ten Tournament since 2003 in his third season and to the College World Series in 2013. That year he also received National Coach of the Year honors.
In 2014, Smith was hired by Arizona State and led the Sun Devils to a 201–155 record over seven years until he was let go in June of 2021.
Smith will make an immediate impact due to his 34 years of coaching experience and previous roles as hitting and fielding coach. Throughout his career, he has worked with many MLB superstars including outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Alex Dickerson and Detroit Tigers’ former number one overall pick and current first baseman Spencer Torkelson.
The immediate problem Smith must deal with is the 10 — or potentially more — players in the transfer portal. He will have to convince those who haven’t committed elsewhere to return to the Wolverines, including junior first baseman Jake Marti, sophomore right-hander Ahmad Harajli and senior left-hander Jack White. In addition, Smith will face the challenge of recruiting for a program that has already accumulated commitments from players in four separate recruiting classes.
Regardless of the problems Michigan still has to tackle, it now has a coach who can lead those efforts.