Jan. 31, 2012

Nine Innings with Kevin Leighton

Nine Innings with Brett Boretti

Nine Innings with Neil McPhee

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 continue with Neil McPhee, in his 26th season as the head coach at Northeastern. The Huskies have had 18 winning seasons under McPhee and have reached postseason play in 15 of the past 18 years. NU has had 14 players drafted over the past 12 seasons, including first-rounder Adam Ottavino. Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Carlos Pena also played collegiate baseball for McPhee at NU.


McPhee has posted an overall record of 625-536-4 in 25 seasons at his alma mater, giving him the most victories of any coach in Northeastern history. He was inducted into the NU Hall of Fame in 1980 for his accomplishments as a player in both baseball and hockey.


Along with being a huge New England Patriots fan, there is another football connection for McPhee. His daughter, Heather, is the Associate General Council for the NFL Players Association.


In the photo to the right, McPhee’s son’s three boys meet their hero, Tom Brady, after the Patriots’ victory over the Redskins in December.


McPhee gives us his perspective on the AFC Champion, the New England Patriots.


First Inning – Growing up, did you have a favorite Boston Patriots player?

Babe Parrilli; it seems as if he was the player most responsible for bringing the then-AFL team respectability.


Second Inning – As this season progressed, did you think the Patriots has a defense good enough to reach the Super Bowl?

No!!  I am no FB expert so it just seemed that the weakness to stop other teams would eventually end their season early. HOWEVER, the defense always seemed to come up "big" in every game and give Brady the ball when they needed.


Third Inning – What impresses you most about Bill Belichick as a head coach?

His incredible ability to think outside the traditional "coaching box." Consider playing Edelman as an "old time two-way guy." He sees athletes as simply "football players" who can "run it, throw it, catch it and tackle." I put him in a category of Red Auerbach, who I consider the best coach of any sport who ever lived. 


Fourth Inning – Tom Brady was a catcher in high school. Do you think he could have been a major league backstop?

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he would have become a Big Leaguer in baseball.  There are very few athletes that have his "make up" combined with natural talent. Being a "back up" QB at Michigan yet having the undefinable "it" to believe in himself the moment he took over the Pats QB position speaks volumes about HOF athletes. 


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

Matt Miller, 1B/OF, Two-year Captain. Classic over-achieving, pressure athlete. He would play the position of Wes Welker.


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

Assistant Coach Mike Glavine (Tom's brother). Knows everything about Pats and Bruins!!


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

Eli, of course. But also Tom Coughlin. Have heard nothing but fabulous praise from BC people who knew/know about his coaching ability, and most of all his character.


Eighth Inning – Why will the Patriots win?

Brady and Belichick!!! With supporting roles from Welker, Gronk and Wilfork. Hard to imagine players, coaches in any sport that perform better under intense pressure.


Ninth Inning – What will the final score be?

Pats 30....Giants 27


Extra Innings – What should we expect from the Northeastern Huskies this season?

Hopefully this will begin a new era of NU baseball. This is the first year that the athletic department has been able to begin the process of fully funding the baseball program.  Following our 2006 debut in the CAA with a team that included four draftees (including first-rounder Adam Ottavino), we were reduced  two scholarships, from eight to six, which has certainly stalled our progress.  This freshmen class is the first recruited with increased scholarship resources and includes 10 players who we think will be the foundation for the future. Whatever success we have this season will be dependent on our rotation of LHP Drew Leenhouts, closer turned starter RHP Dylan Maki, plus a much needed improved offense.


With the 2013 class we will be at the 11.7 limit of scholarships for the first time in the program's history. It is my feeling that the future of our program has the potential to become a nationally-ranked program vis-à-vis UConn (Jim Penders has done a remarkable job). It may not be in "my time" but, along with fully-funded status, and with a gorgeously renovated turf field, a turfed indoor facility and a "Top 60" ranking academically by US News and World Report, we are well positioned to compete at this level.


(McPhee photos courtesy of NU Media Relations Office, grandsons photo courtesy of Neil McPhee)