Since news broke on June 16 about Erik Bakich taking the head coaching position at Clemson, Warde Manuel has been on the prowl for a new Michigan Wolverines baseball coach. Several names have been tossed in the pot and considered, from former University of Michigan assistants, to successful head coaches and assistant coaches from other nationally renowned programs.
But the search finally came to an end on July 2, with reports of the University of Michigan set to hire Tracy Smith as the 20th head coach in Michigan Baseball history. The university confirmed the news on Sunday.
“We are excited to welcome Tracy Smith, his wife, Jaime, and their family, to U-M to lead our baseball program,” Manuel said in a statement. “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 his college baseball from 1985-88 at Miami University (OH) before being selected in the 39th round of the MLB Draft in 1988 by the Chicago Cubs. His professional career ended shortly after, as he retired after the 1990 season.
From there began Smith’s career as a decorated and successful college baseball coach. He began his coaching journey as a head coach at Miami-Middletown, a junior college. He advanced to the Division I level when he became a hitting coach for his alma mater, the Miami Redhawks.
In his playing days, Smith played on both sides of the ball, as a successful pitcher and a successful hitter. His coaching proved to be successful on both sides of the ball as well. When he moved to the Indiana Hoosiers program in 1995, he became the pitching coach. He stayed there for a few years before returning to Miami to serve as the head coach for the Redhawks.
The Redhawks made two NCAA tournaments, in both 2000 and 2005, under the leadership of Smith. They made the MAC Tournament in every year he served as the head coach.
His success at a mid-major Division I school earned him the opportunity to return to Indiana, this time as the head coach. In his nine seasons at Indiana, Smith led the Hoosiers to the NCAA Tournament three times, including Indiana’s only College World Series berth in 2013, which allowed Smith to win NCBWA Coach of the Year.
After finding success yet again, Smith was hired to be the head coach of the powerhouse, Arizona State Sun Devils, following the 2014 season. Smith led the Sun Devils to the NCAA Tournament in four of the six complete seasons he was at the helm of the program (not including the COVID-shortened 2020 season). Smith was fired from Arizona State after the 2021 season, despite his success with the program.
The Wolverines have found a great coach in Tracy Smith — one that has found success at every program he has led.