Sometimes you are smart and sometimes you are lucky. Clemson got lucky when they hired Monte Lee.
Gamecock fans held their breath hoping that they wouldn’t get rid of Jack Leggett. When Clemson did, Gamecock fans were hoping either Kevin O’Sullivan or Tim Corbin would take the job. After all, they were the top two choices for that trusty Clemson brain trust.
Gamecock fans knew who we didn’t want them to get and that was Monte Lee. Corbin and O’Sullivan turned down Clemson and Monte Lee fell into their lap like a winning lottery ticket picked out from the garbage by a homeless man.
Monte Lee is the real deal and I wish I said this sudden surge by Clemson baseball in just one season is shocking to me. It is not. Most Gamecock fans knew this was coming.
When I interviewed Aaron Fitt to preview the college baseball season, I expressed my concerns to him:
Big Mike: They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Don’t tell anyone but I am worried about Clemson. I think Monte Lee is really good and Clemson baseball could be a force soon. Please tell me I am wrong on this….or just tell me the truth. What can we expect from Clemson this year and beyond?
Aaron: Your instincts are spot-on — Monte Lee is a rising star, and he’s going to do very well at Clemson. That said, I think this year could be a bit trying, just because they’re really short on proven arms over there. The offense should be pretty solid, the defense is very questionable, and the pitching is on the thin side. It’s a team that would be good enough to make a regional most years (and it may very well do so this year), but I think the ACC is 10 quality teams deep, and Clemson would be at the back of that 10-team group for me. And the ACC has never gotten 10 bids before, and it won’t this year. That said — the future is very bright for Clemson under Lee. The best rivalry in college baseball will continue to be very compelling for years to come.
Why do I always have to be right? It is a curse. The NCAA Baseball Tournament starts Friday. Clemson is in our sights. Get used to it. Let the rivalry resume.