Nov. 25, 2013


Meet Kent State's Jeff Duncan

By Sean Ryan Co-Founder @collbaseball


Before the 2013 season, Big 10 head baseball coaches named Purdue’s Jeff Duncan as the assistant coach most ready for a head job in a survey. Duncan gets his chance, taking over for Scott Stricklin as the new coach at Kent State.


Duncan was a key part of the Boilermakers’ run to their first Big 10 title in 103 years in 2012, a year when they also hosted an NCAA Regional. At Kent State, the former major leaguer inherits a program that Stricklin and longtime pitching coach Mike Birkbeck guided to the College World Series, a run that started by winning the Gary Regional hosted by Purdue.


First Inning – What attracted you to Kent State?

The tradition and expectations.


Second Inning – What kind of pressure do you feel to maintain the winning tradition at Kent State?

None. There is pressure, but pressure is good. That’s what lured me to this job, the expectation to win.


Third Inning – Pitching coach Mike Birkbeck stayed at Kent State instead of moving on to Georgia with Coach Stricklin.  What does that mean to the Golden Flashes?

You’re talking about a staple of the program, one of the best pitching coaches in the country. He’s loyal and believes what’s going on here. That is what makes it so special.


Fourth Inning – You were part of Purdue’s best college baseball season.  What was that experience like?

It was really neat. We hadn’t won a Big 10 championship in 100 years. What made is so special was the players. We had a very good team with a good chemistry, as well. It was something I’ll never forget.


Fifth Inning – At 34 years old, how does your age help you as a coach?

I’ve got energy and I’m not too far removed from playing. I know how hard it is to play the game.


Sixth Inning – After playing at Arizona State, you spent nine years in professional baseball.  What’s the toughest part about minor league ball?

The whole business of professional baseball is demanding and unique. There are a lot of adverse conditions. Guys that have played professional baseball become a unique breed because they’ve been through a lot of adversity as far as moving up and down levels. It makes you a resilient person.


Seventh Inning – You spent parts of two years in the majors with the Mets.  What do you remember about your only Major League home run?  Any other top big league memories?

It was a great experience. My family happened to be at the game, which was great. It was against Brandon Duckworth. I was leading off or hitting in the 2-hole that game, got down 0-2 and got a fastball in. It was a great feeling, something I’ll never forget.


Eighth Inning – Who are the five toughest pitchers you’ve faced, whether in college, the minors or the majors?

Randy Johnson, Billy Wagner, Jason Schmidt, Javier Vasquez, Mark Prior


Ninth Inning – What are some of the things you look for in recruiting hitters?

Feel. The feel of being able to make some adjustments, having some rhythm, bat speed and hand-eye coordination.


(photo courtesy of KSU Media Relatons)