Now that it’s official that Michigan Wolverines baseball head coach Erik Bakich has left the program to take over for the Clemson Tigers, U-M Athletic Director Warde Manuel has some work to do.
This one really stings, as Bakich helped turn the program from mediocrity to a national powerhouse in a short period of time. Since taking over in 2013, he won two Big Ten Tournament Championships and made it to four NCAA Tournaments.
Bakich has done everything at Michigan but win a National Championship, and even that was attainable back in 2019, but the Wolverines came up just short against Vanderbilt.
Replacing a coach like Bakich is damn near impossible, but Manuel has the unfortunate task of doing so.
Here are two potential replacement options. And in my opinion, these are the only two guys worth making a serious run for.
Jordan Bischel, Central Michigan head coach
This would be a slam dunk, as Bischel has been successful everywhere he has gone.
His first head coaching gig was back in 2013 for Midland University in Nebraska, where he won 74 games in just two seasons. In 2015, he took over at Northwood University — he led the school to its first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship in 2017, and then won it again the following season.
Bischel’s first season as CMU’s head coach was 2019, and in that season the Chippewas went 47–14 overall, won the Mid-American Conference Tournament and went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995. He also won MAC Coach of the Year his first year in the conference.
In 2021, CMU went 42–18 and also went to an NCAA Regional. Oh, and Bischel once again won MAC Coach of the Year. This past season, the Chips went 38–16 and finished second in the conference. They eventually lost to Florida in the Regionals, but did defeat Liberty to have the opportunity to play the Gators.
CMU has won at least one NCAA Tournament game in three straight seasons. Pretty remarkable for a program that historically isn’t phenomenal.
So, Mr. Manuel, please pick up the phone and get this man in Ann Arbor pronto.
Chris Fetter, Detroit Tigers pitching coach
Fetter is another obvious candidate. He attended the University of Michigan and was a pitcher for the Wolverines in the mid-to-late 2000s. After not making it in the MLB, he went into coaching and wound back up in Ann Arbor in 2017 to be the pitching coach for the Wolverines under Bakich.
He is now the pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers, but he and his family still live in Ann Arbor. Hell, the guy has a tattoo on his arm that reads, “Those Who Stay.” Needless to say, Fetter bleeds Maize and Blue and loves U-M.
But the one thing potentially holding this one up is Fetter has done an insanely impressive job during his first year and a half in the MLB. The Tigers statistically have one of, if not the best bullpen in the league. And despite Casey Mize, Matt Manning and pretty much everyone else being hurt, the starters have collectively been pretty dang good, too. So the opportunity for him to move up in the MLB ranks is definitely there.
It’s probably unlikely he would want to go back to the college game, but at the very least Manuel has to give it a shot.