Jan. 29, 2009

Nine Innings with Pittsburgh's Joe Jordano

Nine Innings with Duquesne's Mike Wilson


Nine Innings with Andy Lopez

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


This week, we are going to have head coaches from Arizona and the Pittsburgh area give us their thoughts on Sunday's Super Bowl between the Cardinals and the Steelers.


Today we continue with Andy Lopez from the University of Arizona. Lopez is in his eighth season with the Wildcats. Arizona posted a 42-19 record in 2008, winning the Ann Arbor Regional before dropping two of three to Miami (Fla.) at the Coral Gables Super Regional. Lopez has accumulated nearly 940 wins in 26 seasons as a head coach, including more than 250 in seven seasons with the Wildcats. Lopez is one of three head coaches to take three different schools to the College World Series (Pepperdine, Florida, Arizona). His 1992 Pepperdine squad won the national championship.


Lopez gives his perspective on the NFC Champions, the Arizona Cardinals.


First Inning – What was the defining play of the season for the Cardinals?

I don't know if there is really a defining play or even game. Their success has been so fun to watch. I really think Coach Whisenhunt has done a tremendous job setting the tone for the club. That has helped them have a chance to win every week and I've watched them every week because they are always on TV here in Arizona. They are a lot of fun to watch.


Second Inning – Which player from the Cardinals would you most like to have on your baseball team, and what position would he play?

Oh wow, I'd love to have either Larry Fitzgerald or Anquan Bolden. Both of those guys are simply amazing. On the baseball field, we could probably play with just two outfielders if we had those guys. Put one of them in left center and the other in right center and let them roam around.


Third Inning – Which player from the Steelers do you fear most?

I would have to say Troy Polamalu. I remember watching him play at USC and saying, "wow, what a good player!" He plays with a level of intensity that you wish every player could do. I would definitely be concerned if I saw him come up to the plate in baseball.


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

That would be senior third baseman Brad Glenn. He was a big time football player in high school at Tulsa Union. He won a state championship in front of 40,000 people and played fullback/tight end. He's a guy that is quiet and goes about his business, but always has a toughness.


Fifth Inning – What do you admire about Ken Whisenhunt?

I think he is exactly what the Cardinals needed as a head coach. He was a great hire to set the right tone for that team and that is not to discredit what other coaches did up there. My good friend Chris Mortensen (ESPN NFL analyst) told me that Whisenhunt was going to be a coach that could be successful there and he has done it in a very short period of time. He definitely has brought that very disciplined, hard-working mentality from Pittsburgh. It's evident he has changed the tone of things up there.


Sixth Inning – Which previous Super Bowl did you enjoy the most?

To me, Super Bowl XXXIV between the Rams and Titans. That finish was unbelievable. It's one of those instances that really define the narrow margin between winning and losing, and as I coach I have seen that many times. I mean, one-yard was the only difference. As a coach, you see both extremes throughout your career, but that was a big of a game as you can be in.


Seventh Inning – Does the success of the Cardinals help all sports in the state of Arizona?

I think it does to some extent. It would be a boost for this state and I think every state could use some type of a boost given the tough economic times. I'm not sure a win would directly impact UA athletics -- I would hope it can somehow -- but really it would just give more recognition to our state, which is a good thing.


Eighth Inning – Why will the Cardinals win?

I think the Cardinals will win if they can score early and get a lead early in the game. They really seem to put in a good game plan to utilize Fitzgerald and Bolden early in games. It will be tough to score much against that Pittsburgh defense, but if the Cardinals can get a little bit of a lead, then I think they can hold on.


Ninth Inning – What will the final score will be?

21-17, Cardinals win.


(photo courtesy of Arizona Media Relations Office)