Depending on who you believe and whose sources actually know what they’re talking about, ACC baseball coaches Erik Bakich, Brian O’Connor, Tom Walter, Chris Pollard and Link Jarrett were all in the mix for high-profile SEC job openings at Texas, Texas A&M and South Carolina in the past few weeks.

Whatever involvement any of them might have had is a matter of speculation.

But this much is beyond debate:

Bakich is still at Clemson. O’Connor is still at Virginia. Walter is still at Wake Forest. Pollard is still at Duke. And Jarrett is still at Florida State.

They all decided to stick around, decisions that directly contrast football coach Mike Elko’s middle-of-the-night dash away from Duke when Texas A&M came calling last winter.

It’s a development that speaks volumes about the depth and quality of ACC baseball and its place in the food chain of college conferences.

Just as it is in football, SEC baseball is the unquestioned gold standard of its sport. It has produced 5 consecutive College World Series champions and 6 of the past 7, earned by 6 different schools. And its 11 bids to this year’s NCAA Tournament are the most ever, as are the 4 teams it sent to the College World Series.

Unlike football, though, the ACC isn’t that far behind.

It, too, tied the record by getting 4 teams to Omaha. With 4 fewer NCAA Tournament bids. And while none of them advanced past the semifinals or beat an SEC opponent head-to-head, it’s not as if they were outclassed.

Florida State came within a checked swing of beating eventual national champion Tennessee in the opening round. NC State lost a pair of 1-run games, including a 10-inning walkoff loss in which it led heading into the 9th.

While it’s been a full decade since Virginia became the most recent ACC program to win a title – or even get to the best-of-3 CWS Finals – it’s not unrealistic to believe that someone from the league will break the drought sooner than later.

Maybe even as early as next year.

A big reason for that optimism is the continuity among the league’s coaches. And their ability to attract elite talent.

For every high-profile ACC player poached by an SEC program – a list that includes LSU’s Tommy “Tanks” White, Tennessee’s Billy Amick and Cannon Peebles, and most recently Clemson’s Billy Barlow to Florida – there are just as many going the other direction on the transfer portal.

Chase Burns came to Wake Forest from Tennessee and will likely be the first pitcher taken when the Major League Baseball Draft begins July 14. Alabama’s Max Williams and Jaxson West went to Florida State and helped the Seminoles return to prominence while Parks Harber’s arrival from Georgia was a key element in fueling North Carolina’s run to Omaha.

For all the movement among the players, the coaching pipeline between the ACC and SEC has produced little more than a series of rumors, denials and in at least one case, a contract extension.

It started with South Carolina’s firing of Mark Kingston shortly after the Gamecocks were eliminated from their NCAA Regional at NC State.

It’s unclear how much interest athletic director Ray Tanner had in Walter and Pollard. Or if either or both were contacted about the job. Both, however, were among the names most prominently mentioned before 66-year-old former LSU skipper Paul Mainieri was coaxed out of retirement and hired.

Then it was Bakich’s turn to take the spotlight when his name came up in connection to the Texas job, vacated when David Pierce was fired on June 24.

In hindsight, the 2nd-year Clemson coach was never seriously in contention, since the deal between the Longhorns and Texas A&M’s Jim Schlossnagle was apparently done weeks before it was announced.

But that gave Bakich an opportunity to publicly reaffirm his commitment to the Tigers by saying he’s “extremely happy” in his current position and has “no plans to leave.”

Of course, that’s exactly what Scholssnagle said less than 24 hours before he did leave the Aggies. For their hated rival.

Which brings us to O’Connor.

The most successful coach in UVa history, whose team has been to Omaha in each of the past 2 seasons, was identified as a priority target for A&M almost as soon as the initial shockwaves of the Scholssnagle bombshell hit.

O’Connor ended the conversation almost as quickly, telling Greg Madia of the Daily Progress of Charlottesville that “he never talked to the Aggies” and “is staying put at UVa.” He reinforced that assertion by signing a contract extension that will keep him with the Cavaliers through 2031.

Jarrett also was connected with A&M prior to hitting coach Michael Earley being elevated to the top job. But it’s doubtful he would have been a serious candidate.

Not only is he a former Seminole All-American who returned to his alma mater from Notre Dame in 2023 to help bring the program back to national prominence, but as he and his fellow ACC coaches have proven at least in baseball you don’t have to be in the SEC to compete at the highest level.