UPDATE: A source confirmed to On The Banks that Duffy will be hired to work under head coach Joe Litterio. For more on this story, which includes Phil Cundari also set to be hired by the program, click here.
We speculated Rutgers baseball needed a change, but we are not quite sure all that this means yet. The Manhattan College Jaspers twitter page is reporting current head baseball coach Jim Duffy has informed them he accepted a position with Rutgers University. No word yet from the Rutgers athletic department on what that position will be.
After his playing career in the Houston Astros system ended, Duffy returned to his alma mater, Seton Hall. He served as assistant coach when current Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs served the same role on an interim basis 2010-2011. After that Duffy moved on to be the head man at Manhattan. His profile is still online, but the links are now removed from the Manhattan website. His twitter page still says he is the head man at Manhattan.
Duffy began his head coaching career at Manhattan, winning the MAAC championship in 2012 going 33-27 with an amazing 18-0 at home. Then they went 24-28, 17-33, 18-34, and 24-31, before the team finished 18-35 in 2017. With those results, it does not appear he would be getting the head position at RU. This also seems like a mutually agreed upon move as the Jaspers likely wanted to infuse some new blood in their program. Duffy’s experience is with outfielders and first basemen in addition to heavy recruiting responsibilities at Seton Hall.
Bringing experienced baseball men in has to be a positive, but I don’t see Pat Hobbs replacing Litterio with Duffy right now. That would appear like history repeating itself, a Jersey guy with mediocre record at a smaller program that is not a pitching guru (Jaspers had a 5.77 ERA in 2017). Getting a big time recruiter or more professional coaching experience as a draw could be the key ingredient for the Knights, Duffy is neither of those.
For the Knights program
Regardless of who is doing what, the Scarlet Knights never quite kicked it into gear in 2017 despite a few wins that at the time looked like they might be “the one.” A disappointing final week led to the harsh grades OTB dolled out at the season’s end. The 2017 season was surely a disappointment with many now graduated contributing seniors including the teams best pitcher by far. To make matters worse, the two top incoming freshmen were drafted, one will surely not enroll.
The worst baseball facilities when they joined the Big Ten, the team has since gotten a new practice facility. That won’t get more games on TV as they still don’t have lights. Much of our readership questioned the team’s long term outlook and the majority of that falls on the head coach.
For Coach Litterio
Rutgers head baseball coach Joe Litterio has been at the helm for almost four full seasons, having taken over 4 games into the 2014 season. Only once have the Scarlet Knights finished with better than a .500 record that being in 2014 when the team was competing it’s lone season in the American Athletic conference. In his 12 years as the head coach at Wagner, they only posted a winning record one time. During that 2009 season he won Northeast conference coach of the year leading his club to the regular season conference title.
A proud Rutgers alum (class of ‘94), Litterio is only the third head baseball man at the University since 1961, following Fred Hill Sr. and Matt Bolger. That has to be the most stable of any team at RU. The Cranford native has been under some fire as the team remains in neutral despite many other Big Ten programs struggling with the same challenges. An opportunity exists for the Knights to rise up in the conference. Baseball may be the hardest sport to recruit, especially with poor facilities in the northeast. Maybe a full cycle in the B1G with better facilities in the next few years will get RU over the hump. That’s important but I think a stud pitching coach will aid Litterio more than anything else.
Duffy is not that guy, and seems more like the coach with experience that could take over in an interim role if Litterio was let go right before or during the season. Hobbs doesn’t seem the type to pull a move like that, but if he were going to be removed, now would be the time with the entire offseason to go. So either A. This move is made to simply shake things up with Litterio and the current staff or B. A big move is coming and Duffy could be a member of a new staff, assuming he is not the head coach. I’m going to speculate it is option A, but we should know soon.
Coach Litterio was in a jovial mood on twitter last night remarking about Todd Frazier being on the move. Is he still?