|2016-03-09 09:41:28.0- -|
It is very early in his career. And he has been given an instant approval rating bump from this past weekend, but I have noticed a bunch of Clemson fans are turning into Monte Lee fans.
Again, to be fair, anyone that beats South Carolina is popular in Tigertown, but Lee has some things about him that fans love.
Lee appears to be a down-to-earth personality that shows his players an even keel at most points. If a coach panics, his team will panic. Lee didn't panic Friday after the loss to South Carolina, and his team looked very relaxed Saturday and Sunday.
The new guy usually gets a honeymoon period, and maybe Lee is still in this stage. But even before this weekend, I have noticed fans have had good things to say about the new Clemson baseball coach.
So what is it about Lee that Clemson fans like? First, he appears not to have much of an ego. This has been a breath of fresh air for the program.
Maybe it's because he is a native son of the state and speaks with a southern accent?. I don't think that is a prerequisite for this job, but I don't think it hurts him here. The point is that at Clemson it is very important to be a good "fit" for the program. Clemson people talk about being a family often. Lee looks like us and talks like us.
Speaking of looks, Jack Leggett didn't let his players grow long hair or have facial hair. When Lee arrived at Clemson, it seemed his players couldn't let their beards and hair grow out fast enough.
One of the biggest complaints in recent years was the idea that Clemson played tight in big games. There was always nervous energy in the third-base coaching box, and tension seemed to set in at times. Lee's team appears to play very loose and relaxed. This is big in baseball. Baseball season is long. Games can take north of four hours. You can't play tight. You can't play with extreme intensity throughout a long season. This is not football.
To be fair to everyone involved, it is probably too early to make too many judgments yet. But I like the staff he has hired. He kept Leggett's best assistant in Bradley LeCroy. There seems to be a big upgrade in Andrew See as the pitching coach.
Clemson fans love hearing about how relentless Lee is on the recruiting trail. They love his work ethic.
And don't discount two other time factors. First, Clemson fans have been starving to get the program back among the elites again. They had a taste of it for years and have not liked the last eight or nine years. They are starving for that kind of status again.
Also, Lee is new. He feels young and energetic. The ballpark feels fun again. The energy is back in the stands. This past weekend Tiger fans helped break attendance records in Greenville and Clemson. I personally think Lee was a factor in this.
Maybe the honeymoon effect is bigger than I think, and maybe Lee's popularity is not as prevalent as I portray it. But I don't think I am wrong about this one. This open feels right, and my guess is it will feel right for a long time. I am very confident the Clemson baseball family is very close to being whole again.
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