Geneva graduate Matt Brandys is acclimating to the Miami (Ohio) baseball program after transferring from another Division-I program, Stetson (Fla.). Brandys, who redshirted at Stetson as a freshman last year, has applied for an NCAA waiver that would make him immediately eligible to compete at Miami, with the decision still pending. In this week’s Weekend Chit-chat with Kane County Chronicle sports editor Jay Schwab, the right-handed pitcher discusses his move, switching from one of the oldest D-I coaches at Stetson to one of the youngest at Miami and sharing the Mid-American Conference with former Geneva baseball and football teammate Matt Williams. The following is an edited transcript:
What’s the background on your decision to head back to the midwest?
I just didn’t think Stetson was the best place for me to develop. I didn’t necessarily have the best relationship with the head coach, I guess you could say. … I would have loved to play for the assistant coach [Mark Leavitt] who recruited me but it turns out coach [Pete Dunn] decided to come back, so I felt it wasn’t the best place for me to develop as a pitcher there.
So when was you final decision to move to Miami?
I want to say it was probably Aug. 9 or 10. It really came down to Walters State (a junior college power in Tennessee), Coastal Carolina and Miami. … Under normal circumstances, transferring D-I to D-I, usually there’s a year where you’re ineligible. You can practice on the team but you can’t play. That was kind of my big concern, but looking to transfer to D-I, I talked to the compliance departments at both Miami and Coastal Carolina, and they were going to file a waiver under academic reasons to transfer, which did come into play. Miami is a much stronger school. They offer a zoology department that Stetson didn’t offer.
Was it tough to part company with some of your teammates and [coach Leavitt]?
Without a doubt. … I want to say we had six, seven kids in my recruiting class leave, which doesn’t say much for their program. It’s a great place to be, a great program, great baseball, but I just didn’t think a lot of players necessarily felt it was the best place to develop.
So is it kind of bizarre to go from one of the older coaches in D-I to one off the youngest?
Oh yeah, it’s a huge difference, and I’m not taking anything away from coach Dunn. He’s one of the best baseball minds I’ve ever been around. He knows the game so well. I have nothing but respect for him. … [Miami coach Danny Hayden] is at our 5 o’clock workouts every morning running our practices, lifting with us. It’s different for sure, more energy more enthusiasm, more optimism.
Do you envision projecting more as a starter or a reliever?
The goal is obviously everyone wants to be that Friday night [starter]. I was kind of talking with coach Hayden and he said, ‘Without a doubt, I see it as a very strong possibility.’ I had a good showing at workouts with the Padres and Braves, and they seemed pretty enthusiastic about it. Whether I’m a closing guy or a Friday night or Saturday guy ... nothing is going to be given. It’s got to be earned, and that’s the way it should be.
You and Matt (Williams) are pretty close, so were you not surprised that he decided to come back to baseball this year?
Not at all. That’s his first love. Football is actually my first love, so he and I are on opposite sides of it. I can’t way to play him. He’s one of my best friends growing up. … I told him ‘Hey, you better wear some armor when you get up to the plate because I’m coming in, high and tight’ and he said ‘All right, I’m going to charge the mound,’ so I said, ‘All right, better bring your bat with you.’
Zoology and political science, that’s kind of an interesting mix [to major in], huh?
Yeah, it is, without a doubt. Both my parents are in the health care profession. … My end goal is to play baseball and go into health care law. Baseball’s got to end sometime, hopefully later than sooner.