Jan. 30, 2012

Nine Innings with Neil McPhee

Nine Innings with Brett Boretti

Nine Innings with Kevin Leighton

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

phil@collegebaseballinsider.com  @RoadToOmaha


This week, we are going to have head coaches from New York and Boston give their thoughts on Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Giants and the Patriots.


Today we start with Kevin Leighton, the first-year head coach at Fordham. He was the head coach at Manhattan for the past six seasons, posting at least 30 victories each year. In 2011, Leighton led the Jaspers to their second MAAC Championship and second NCAA Regional appearance. Manhattan was 34-19 overall and 20-2 in league play as Leighton was named MAAC Coach of the Year. Leighton was 200-119-1 in his six seasons with the Jaspers.


Leighton gives us his perspective on the NFC Champion, the New York Giants.


First Inning – When the Redskins beat the Giants 23-10 in Week 15, did you still think they had a chance to reach the Super Bowl?

No way! I remember watching that game and saying "These guys are terrible!" I figured they would struggle having a stretch with the 49ers, Eagles, Packers, and Saints, but the Redskins... Come on, they lost both to them this year! It just goes to show that some teams match up against you better than others. Sometimes it takes a loss like that in week 15 to wake your guys up, but teams respond differently to a loss like that, some wake up and some roll over and die.  

Second Inning – What makes the Giants so successful on the road during the playoffs?

I think in football it is different than baseball, I know the home crowd is big, but in baseball you hit last. That would be like guaranteeing that you have the ball last with two minutes to go in football. I think they have embraced it. You hear them on TV saying how they look forward to going into another team's stadium and beating them. They have an attitude and confidence which goes a long way, and they back it up. I also think sometimes there are less distractions on the road. I know for me I like knowing where our guys are and who they are with the night before a game.

Third Inning – Would you take any other NFL quarterback on your team ahead of Eli Manning?

This is a tough one! I think right now there are some very good ones out there. In my opinion Eli is a guy that you need to watch a lot to get an idea of how good he is. He is the reason the Giants are where they are now and he does it year in and year out with what seems to be new guys at multiple positions every year. I think that Eli deserves a lot of credit for the success that Victor Cruz has had this year. He also does it quietly, and always puts the team first. I guess my answer would be if I had to draft a quarterback out of the quarterbacks in the NFL, I probably wouldn't pick Eli because I do think there are more talented guys out there. But after the season ends, I would probably say I should have! The guy knows how to win!

Fourth Inning – What makes Tom Coughlin successful as a head coach?

I have always thought that a coach’s job is to get the most out of his/her players. A good coach knows his team's strengths but more importantly knows his team's weaknesses. I think Coughlin did that this year towards the end of the year. I also think they finally got healthy which helped. What I really like about Coughlin, though, is that he stays in the background and acknowledges his team and coaches more than himself. Coughlin knows his team and he knows himself. He enjoys the role of the underdog and doesn't care if he is front page news or not. He is honest and his players trust him and that is why I think he is successful. It is funny, though, because a few weeks ago just about every Giant fan was calling the radio talk shows saying to fire him and now we all want to build him a statue! New York is like that though, you can win the Super Bowl this year and if you don't do it again next year it's time to go!  

Fifth Inning – Who on your team would make the best Giant, and what position would he play?

This is another difficult question! I am still getting to know our guys being that I am new here. I think that I would have to go with Brian Kownacki, "The Fordham Flip." He is a freak athlete and competitor. I think he would probably be either a cornerback or a running back. I would say a wide receiver, but I think being 6'0 he's too small at the pro level! He could probably be a quarterback too! He runs, has a plus arm, and makes some of the most athletic plays you will see. Close second would be a freshman that we have, Dave Judisky. The kid is an animal and would be a great linebacker! He's 6'3, 220 solid muscle, runs a 6.8 sixty... I would be afraid of him on a football field! Third would be Ryan Maghini. I've seen him kick some long field goals, and those kickers although they don't get much attention, are very important!

Sixth Inning – Who is the biggest Giants fan on your team/staff?

I don't know this one for sure, but I do hear Dan Camano and Ryan Phelan talk a lot about the Giants. I imagine I will find out after this is released.

Seventh Inning – Which player from the Patriots do you fear most?

I think most would say Tom Brady, but the guy to me that the Giants need to have circled is [Rob] Gronkowski. The guy has been Brady's favorite target lately and leads the team in touchdowns during the regular season and postseason. I think the problem is that you have to cover [Wes] Welker, [Deion] Branch, and Gronkowski and all three can beat you.

Eighth Inning – Why will the Giants win?

I am a Giants fan, but I am not saying that they will win! Every game they have played since the Redskins I have said that they will probably lose, so I'm sticking to that! If they do win, it will be because their front four will get pressure on Brady, and Eli will be able to pick apart New England's defense.

Ninth Inning – What will the final score be?

Unfortunately, I would have to go with 31-20 New England. I hope I'm wrong!

Extra Innings – What should we expect from the Fordham Rams this season?

I am excited about this team. I think we have a good group of returnees and some talented newcomers. No matter what, our guys will battle, we will play the game hard, and we will try to outwork the other team. You aren't always going to be more talented, but you can outwork and hustle them, and sometimes that's enough to beat them. Looking at some of the preseason stuff that has come out I expect our guys will have a little extra motivation. I can't wait to get going!


(photo courtesy of Fordham Media Relations Office)