Jack Leggett is no stranger to success. In his 22 seasons, he led Clemson to 955 victories (43 per season), 21 NCAA Tournament appearances and six College World Series berths. Clemson was the seventh-winningest program in the nation during his time as head coach, while his six trips to Omaha tied for ninth most in the nation during his tenure.
The enthusiastic mentor did not build up that win total against easy competition. Of his 955 wins, 244 (26 percent) came against teams ranked in the top 25 of at least one of the three major polls. He also had 135 wins over top-10 teams, 68 victories in NCAA Tournament competition and directed Clemson to a winning record in ACC regular-season games in 21 of his 22 seasons in Tigertown.
Clemson’s success was not limited to the long term, as the Tiger program was one of only 11 in the country that played in the NCAA Tournament each of the seven seasons from 2009-15.
For his accomplishments, Leggett was inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame on Jan. 3, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. Leggett joined six other inductees during ABCA’s annual convention.
The South Burlington, Vt. native was with the Tiger program from 1992-15. He served as recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach under Bill Wilhelm (1992,93). He was a major contributor to two teams that ranked in the final top 20 and reached an NCAA Regional. The Tigers also won the ACC Tournament title in 1993.
The word “championship” is also in the lexicon of terms when summarizing Leggett’s 22 years as head coach in Tigertown. In 1994, Clemson won the ACC regular-season title and went on to win the tourney title as well. In 1995, the Tigers repeated as ACC regular-season champion and won the NCAA East Regional title.
The 1996 season brought Clemson another NCAA Regional title and a second consecutive berth to the College World Series. In 1999, Clemson won four games in two days to capture the Fayetteville (Ark.) Regional. In 2006, the Tigers captured the Atlantic Division title with a 24-6 record and then won the ACC Tournament championship.
The Tigers also won regional titles in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010. Leggett guided Clemson to the College World Series in 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2010 as well.
Seven of the 22 years saw the Tigers finish in the top 10 of all three major polls, and there was at least one top-25 final ranking in 16 of 22 seasons under Leggett.
For his accomplishments, he was named ACC Coach-of-the-Year in his first two seasons (1994,95). He is one of a few coaches in ACC history, regardless of sport, to be named ACC Coach-of-the-Year in each of his first two seasons. He also earned the same honor in 2006 when Clemson won the ACC title.
His demeanor was one of aggressiveness and passion for the game. One could see Leggett sprinting to the third-base coaching box between innings and charging into the pregame huddle to get his players fired up. He expected the same intensity and got that out of his players.
His Tigers showed excellence in all areas of the game. His first year (1994) as head coach was truly remarkable. With just three starters returning in the field, Clemson was unranked in the preseason top 20, but it quickly reached the top 20 of every poll with a two-game sweep of No. 9 Tennessee. Those were the first two of 19 wins over top-25 teams.
The 1994 Tigers (57-18) won a record 13 straight ACC games to open the season and ended the year with a 20-4 league ledger. After two wins over Miami (Fla.) in April 1994, Clemson ascended to the No. 1 ranking in the nation by Collegiate Baseball. It was just the second No. 1 ranking in school history.
Leggett’s Tigers won the 1994 ACC regular-season title, then they captured the ACC Tournament title by winning four games against top-20 teams. It was just the fifth time in school history that the Tigers won the regular-season and ACC Tourney titles in one year. As a result, Clemson was rewarded as a regional host for the first time in 13 years.
Clemson was eliminated in the NCAA Regional, but it still was the nation’s winningest team. The summer following that season, Leggett was inducted into the University of Maine Hall of Fame.
In 1995, his Tigers had a 54-14 record due in part to an offense that was in the top 10 in the nation in runs per game (8.4). The team also had six players who would go on to play in the major leagues.
In 1996, the season ended with the Tiger pitching staff owning the best ERA (3.03) in the nation. With a 51-17 record, Clemson was fourth in the nation in wins. The 1996 team also produced eight major league draft picks, including seven in the first 17 rounds. Righthanders Kris Benson, the No. 1 overall pick, and Billy Koch, the No. 4 overall pick, headlined the picks. It was only the second time in the history of the draft, which dates to 1965, that one school produced two of the first five picks.
In 1998, Clemson reached No. 3 in the nation and finished as high as No. 19. In 1999, Clemson was 6-6 against top-10 teams even though just one of the games was at home. That squad won four elimination games in two days to capture the Fayetteville (Ark.) Regional title, then came one inning from advancing to Omaha, as the Tigers lost game-three in the College Station (Texas) Super Regional against Texas A&M.
In 2000, Clemson climbed to the No. 1 ranking by Collegiate Baseball after opening the season 23-3. The Tigers traveled back to Omaha for the first time in four seasons. Clemson won a game in the College World Series after sweeping its way through the regional and super regional rounds. The Tigers ended the year with a 51-18 record and finished second in the ACC. Clemson claimed 14 wins over top-25 teams, including 11 victories against top-10 teams.
The 2001 season saw Clemson triumph over adversity. The Tigers suffered a five-game losing streak along with the unexpected loss of seniors Patrick Boyd and Mike Proto to injury. But Clemson finished second in the ACC and was a step away from Omaha before being eliminated by eventual national champion Miami (Fla.).
In 2002, he received region coach-of-the-year honors by ABCA, as the Tigers were 54-17 and finished tied for third in the nation in Omaha. That team also featured eight draft picks, including unanimous national player-of-the-year Khalil Greene. Greene set the national career record for doubles (95) and was second in hits (403).
The 2004 campaign was one of adversity overcome, as Clemson started 9-10 but went 18-4 in its next 22 games. The team played in the Athens (Ga.) Regional and rallied from a seven-run deficit to defeat host Georgia to stay alive. But the Bulldogs surged past Clemson in the title game to claim the crown. Leggett coached nine Tigers who were picked in the 2004 draft.
The 2005 Tigers played one of their toughest schedules in history, which included 42 of their 66 games against teams that played in the NCAA Tournament. Clemson still managed to come within one win of a trip to the College World Series, falling in three games at Baylor in the Waco (Texas) Super Regional. Clemson was 19-9 against top-25 ranked teams and won 21 ACC regular-season games, finishing in second place in the ACC standings.
In 2006, Clemson had the best ACC record and won the ACC Tournament title. The Tigers later advanced to the College World Series and finished ranked No. 5 in all three polls with a 53-16 record, including a 26-9 mark against top-25 ranked teams. Clemson had a 3.26 ERA, the sixth-best figure in the nation, one of many reasons Leggett was named ACC Coach-of-the-Year. Tyler Colvin and Andy D’Alessio were both first-team All-Americans, while Josh Cribb earned third-team All-America honors. Colvin (No. 13 overall pick) was one of 10 Tigers selected in the 2006 draft as well.
Clemson continued its postseason success in 2007 when it advanced to the Starkville (Miss.) Super Regional after winning the Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Regional with a 3-0 record. The squad had a 41-23 record and finished in the top 15 of the polls. D’Alessio tied the school record with 59 career homers. He was one of a school-record 11 draft picks, five of which were taken in the first three rounds. Lefthander Daniel Moskos was the No. 4 overall pick of the draft.
In 2009, Leggett directed the Tigers to another super regional after the Tigers won the Clemson Regional in dramatic fashion. The Tigers trailed 5-1 in the seventh inning of the championship game against Oklahoma State before they rallied for a 6-5 win thanks to Kyle Parker’s two-out, two-run single in the eighth inning. Clemson did not lose more than two games in a row all season and finished No. 5 in the nation in ERA. The Tigers also had nine draft picks.
The 2010 squad overcame a midseason slump to advance to the College World Series for the sixth time under Leggett. Led by Parker, a first-team All-American, Clemson swept Florida State at home in the final weekend to capture the ACC Atlantic Division title. In the Auburn (Ala.) Regional, Clemson defeated Auburn twice in three games to advance to the Clemson Super Regional, where the Tigers topped Alabama twice in three games. In Omaha, Clemson won two games and reached the Final Four under Leggett, who was named ABCA Atlantic Region Coach-of-the-Year.
The 2011 Tigers started the season 14-12, but under Leggett’s direction, Clemson finished the season 29-8 in its last 37 games. The Tigers were sixth in the nation in batting average (.318) and led the ACC by 14 points. Brad Miller was named ACC Player-of-the-Year and a first-team All-American after leading the ACC in batting average (.395).
In 2012, the Tigers had five walkoff hits and set a school record with a .973 fielding percentage. Clemson won six games against top-10 teams, including three wins in four games against No. 1 Florida State. Clemson’s first four batters in the lineup all earned All-ACC honors, including third-baseman Richie Shaffer, who was a first-team All-American.
The 2013 Tigers had winning streaks of 11 and nine games during the second half of the season to finish with 40 wins. The squad were ranked No. 25 in the nation in the final coaches poll. Righthander Daniel Gossett had 10 wins, the first Tiger to do that since 2002.
In 2014, five of Clemson’s starters in the field and its top-two starting pitchers earned All-ACC honors, led by Gossett’s first-team selection. In all, Leggett coached seven All-ACC players in 2014, tied for second most in the league.
Five position players earned All-ACC honors again in 2015, including second-team All-America catcher Chris Okey and third-team All-America outfielder Reed Rohlman, while Matthew Crownover was a first-team All-American along with being named ACC Pitcher-of-the-Year. The year was highlighted by Clemson’s sweep at No. 8 Florida State, the Seminoles’ first home series sweep since 2006.
Leggett has 1,332 career wins and was the nation’s fifth-winningest active Division I head coach at the end of the 2015 season. He reached the 1,300-win mark in Clemson’s 3-2 walkoff win over No. 3 Miami (Fla.) in the ACC Tournament on May 22, 2014. In 2007, he became just the 29th coach in Division I history to reach 1,000 career wins.
Leggett had a 94-81 record against SEC teams as the Tiger head coach, including a 54-27 record at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Leggett has a career record of 1332-770-1, seven conference championships and 26 NCAA Tournament appearances on his resumé. A total of 121 players Leggett brought to Tigertown were drafted and/or signed a professional baseball contract.
Prior to his move to Clemson, Leggett served as a head coach for 14 years (five at Vermont, nine at Western Carolina). He already had 377 career wins, 302 at Western Carolina and 75 at Vermont, before he came to Clemson.
Leggett led Western Carolina to five NCAA Tournaments (1985-89), five SoCon titles and a top-30 ranking during his tenure as head coach. His 1988 team set the school record for wins, posting a 38-24 record, while the 1989 squad won its fifth-consecutive Southern Conference title. The Catamounts averaged 33 wins a season during his time in Cullowhee, N.C., and his teams played in the conference title game in eight of the nine seasons.
The 1991 Catamounts posted a 36-26 record. One of the 36 wins came in a 9-7 victory over Clemson on March 31, one of just 10 losses the No. 4 Tigers had that year. Leggett was named ABCA Atlantic Region Coach-of-the-Year and Southern Conference Coach-of-the-Year in 1987. In 1989, he was appointed to the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee and served on the committee through the 1995 season.
In his tenure at Western Carolina, Leggett produced 35 First-Team All-SoCon players, six conference players-of-the-year and had 16 players sign professional contracts. Of the Catamounts who played under him for four seasons, 100 percent graduated and more than 50 percent compiled a 3.0-or-better GPA. He was also inducted into the Western Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.
Before going to Western Carolina for the 1983 season, Leggett spent five seasons at Vermont, where he turned the program into a consistent winner. He coached the Vermont club team in 1977, then he organized and coached the school’s first intercollegiate team in 1978. At age 23, Leggett was the youngest coach in the country. He had a winning season in his first year and had a 75-61 overall record at Vermont.
Leggett graduated with honors from Maine in 1976, where he was an all-star performer in baseball and football. He captained the 1976 Maine team that advanced to the College World Series, and he was a two-time All-Yankee Conference honoree in football as a defensive back and placekicker. He still holds the Maine record for the longest field goal (52).
Leggett has two children, son, Tanner, and daughter, Colby. Tanner lettered twice (2005,06) on the Clemson baseball team and graduated with a degree in marketing in 2006, while Colby graduated from Ohio State. Jack and his wife, Karen, were married on Aug. 6, 2005. Karen has four children, three daughters, Kyla, Kristen, and Kacie, and a son, Kenny.
The Leggett File
* - Atlantic Division; ^ - ACC Tournament Champion