Manny Matsakis

Episode 5: Greg Gigantino (Hofstra University)

Interview with Greg Gigantino

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

On this episode, Manny Matsakis brings on former Hofstra University Defensive Coordinator Greg Gigantino. They discuss a number of football topics, as well as their memories of coaching together at Hofstra University.

Episode 5: Greg Gigantino

Summary: On this episode, Manny Matsakis brings on former Defensive Coordinator at Hofstra University Greg Gigantino. They speak about a number of football topics, including the glory days of Hofstra football.


Manny: Welcome to this episode of The Manny Matsakis show and I have a special guest today. And someone I'm fortunate enough to have coached with for three years. And we go back a long way and we kept in touch over the years. I think for everybody here, the opportunity to meet Greg Gigantino, as a coach, as administrator. Anybody out there I think that you will find out exactly what I feel about this guy is, he is without a doubt one of the top defensive coaches, recruiters, that I've seen in my whole career. And you can see because the proof is in the pudding. And Greg, welcome. How you doing?

Greg: Doing great Manny, it's always great to see you. Every time we get a chance to get together.

Manny: Yeah, I tell ya, it's funny as we go through this and what I like to do is is give our audience a really good opportunity to get to know your background and so, just give me like where you grew up and just take me through till you decided, “Hey, I'm gonna be a college football coach. I'm gonna get into coaching”.


Greg: Yeah, well, I grew up in Edison, New Jersey, and, you know, played football there and all that and JP Stevens high school and I went to Wagner college, played football there. And my brother, who's four years older than me, he kind of did the same thing. And he went to Bridgeport, and then he got a GA job in 1972, at Bridgeport. He was going to graduate and go there. During that summer, he met a guy named Mike White, who was the head coach at Cal. So this Mike White took a liking to my brother. He got him out at Cal. So he was GA at a Cal. And that following summer, my brother got me into this camp. And I started working. I was like a counselor, but I used to help the coaches. And I met all these college coaches. And I was like, wow, these guys are great. And that's kind of what I wanted to say and started saying, You know what, I think I want to be a college coach. So I would be the counselor in the dorm, or you know, every night and when the kids were there. And then when we were on the field, I'd go hang around with these college coaches and learn how to coach. And we used to be like three weeks each summer. So I would stay with, you know, a guy from Notre Dame for a week, I'd stay with a guy from Michigan for a week. This is back in the day where there weren't all these millions of camps. And we had 65 or 70 college coaches there. It was great. So that's kind of when I decided, you know what, this is what I want to do.

Manny: So what was your first actual coaching job in college?


Greg: Well, in 1977, I was a graduate assistant at Indiana, Pennsylvania.

Manny: Oh wow!

Greg: And, junior on the team Jim Hazlitt, senior on the team Tony Marciano So, you know, there were some guys there that ended up in the NFL, and I coached for a great guy named Bill Neal. He was just a fantastic man. And I did that for one year and then I got a GA job at Rutgers.

Manny: Okay, and who was the head coach at Rutgers, you work with?

Greg: Frank burns

Manny: Legendary

Greg: Legendary Frank Burns, who passed away recently, but yeah, I was there for six years with Frank and I was like a GA and two years like a part time guy and then three years as the defensive line coach full time.

Manny: Now Rutgers back then was, what league were they and how were they set up?

Greg: We were like a lot, All the other teams in the East were an independent when no one was in a league. We played people from Delaware and Columbia, and Wayman Mary, up to Penn State. So we were playing all kinds of different people and I always felt that Joe Paterno wanted to start in the East Coast Conference way back in the 80s. And I don't know why all the schools didn't do it, but you know, we could have the East Coast Football Conference or whatever it might have been back then. But I think everybody in East was like, why would we want to get in a conference with Penn State? Because they're winning. They're beating everybody anyway. So I don't know. I don't know why I didn't do it, but it was interesting.

Manny: So you leave Rutgers

Greg: Left Rutgers, went to Iona college for one year as the head coach, which was kind of the situation you’re in.

Manny: Yeah

Greg: I got there in like July. You know, there were 48 kids on the team. You know, I haven't tried to scramble and get 10 more kids, at least they'll make a team. And so we went through that season. And then I got a good friend of mine, Bob Gordon. He was down at Davidson. And he calls me and says, you know, we're looking for a D line coach. So I went down and interviewed. I ended up getting a D line I left and went to the Davidson for five years. So

Manny: Pretty country down there.

Greg: Oh, beautiful. Knocking on my head, I wish I would have bought some more property down on that lake.

Manny: That's nice. Yeah. So you leave Davidson and then what was next?


Greg: Then I went to Lehigh for one year. And that was you know, nice experience. You know, Lehigh does you know, it's a great school. Then I got the call from Joe Gardi.

Manny: The legend.

Greg: The legend. Which is ironic because when I was at Davidson, I got to know Joe. I got to know Joe a little bit when I was at Rutgers. I used to go out to their training camp at Hofstra. But when Joe's son, David was in high school, we were recruiting him and he got his knee blown out in a scrimmage. So he kind of missed his whole senior year. So nobody recruited him. Well, he went to Choate, prep school. So I started recruiting David, you know, from the prep school and we made him a nice offer. And Coach Gardi was like, yeah, this is perfect. But then brown came and you know, he got into Brown. So David went to brown.

Manny: Yeah, what's, uh, what's David doing now?

Greg: Yeah, he's like, third or fourth in charge of the NFL. He's a big league in the NFL. Yeah. He's doing great. Talk to him all the time. And then. So coach Gardi hired me in 90 and a lot it was because I helped David out, you know, you know, personal reactions.

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: Relationships. Well, you know, you know the rest from there really?

Manny: Yeah, pretty much. That's where we met a year later.

Greg: A year later, yeah.

Manny: Because I had been coaching at Kansas State

Greg: Right.

Manny: I think a crazy story on this was that I was studying the Run & Shoot offense and working on a like a dissertation of some sort at Kansas State, and a buddy of mine. You remember Ben Griffith?

Greg: Yeah, sure.

Manny: Yeah. Ben started, what is now you know, yours became the hambone of Georgia Southern

Greg: Right.

Manny: He was a Run & Shoot guy and a Triple Option guy and we were best of friends and we're in the office at Kansas State and at the time coaching the receivers, and I'm like, you know, I really would like to run this Run & Shoot offense. I had never done it, but I just started it and Ben taught it to me and I, you know, so we're doing all this stuff. And as crazy as it sounds. There's a job that opens up at Holy Cross, okay, for a receiver coach and I go down the hall and there's John Latina or offensive line coach and who had coached and knew Clyde Christiansen who was the OC at Holy Cross at the time.

Greg: Sure, for Dufner.

Manny: Yeah. And they were killing it. I mean, they had scholarships nobody else did, they were doing a great job, but deservedly so. They went on to Maryland after they won, but the funny thing was is like clients calling me and he says, hey, look, if John Latina says you're the guy, I'm going to try to get you the job. So I said, well, that's fantastic. Just give me an interview. It's all I need. And it'll be I was ready to go and, and then Clyde calls back a day or two later, hey, we had this guy in from Hofstra. It was Rob Spence.

Greg: Right, right.


Manny: And he goes, and we just, I think Duff wants to just hire him. And wouldn’t want to interview anybody else. Yeah, so I just said ah, darn it! So what's a Hofstra?

Greg: Hahahaha!

Manny: Yeah, you know, a Hofstra to me was, I think, was in a Bill Cosby comic.

Greg: It was.

Manny: You know, like a skit or something, you know? And he goes, Well, yeah, it's a good program. I think they're going from Division 3 to 1 double A. Like I go really? Well, that's the same level as you guys! And he goes, Yeah, yeah, that's it. So, I'm thinking to myself. Why would you leave an OC To go be a receiver coach in what you're going to be anyway.

Greg: Right.

Manny: It didn't make sense. And I'm like, Well, great. So I went down the hall and I told Ben, and I said, Look, I gotta get in with this Joe Gardi, he's the head coach. So I said, I don't know how I'm gonna do this. And all of a sudden, he goes, Well, let's call Mouse.

Greg: Right.

Manny: So I said okay. I didn't know Miles Davis, Ben was tight with him. And, he puts me on the phone with Mouse and Mouse makes a call to Joe.

Greg: I think they coached against each other in the World Football League or something like that.

Manny: Yeah,they did yeah! And then all of a sudden Mouse calls back and says “Hey, call Joe Gardi”. Here's his number. It wasn’t like cell phones back and I think Joe had known who he was going to hire.

Greg: He wanted, well we were kind of, I don't know if you want to call it Run & Shoot but we were no tight end-

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: one back, four receiver offense. That's what he wanted to stay with.

Manny: Yeah, that's what he wanted. And he may have had a guiy at the time, before I got on the phone with him because I sensed some hesitancy. And when I'm at Kansas State, he's looking at why you want to leave Kansas State to come to Hofstra right now. And I said, Hey, Coast Guard, it's real simple. I just want a chance to interview with you. And I told him, I said, Look, if I will fly myself out there… It was like, in two days, I'll get a ticket tomorrow.

Greg: Right.

Manny: And if you hire me, just reimburse me for the ticket. If you don't, you didn't lose anything. It's on me. And that's all Joe needed to hear.

Greg: Sure.

Manny: Well, I got nothing to lose. And he just enjoyed interviewing guys. Over the years, he just put guys on the board. And so I fly out there. Like, I think I had this eight hour long presentation. I think we cut it off at about two hours and he takes me to his office and offers me the job, you know, and it was like, I'm moving to New York. So I go from Manhattan, Kansas, the Little apple.

Greg: To the big apple!

Manny: Yeah, so that's how we got to know each other. Yeah, cuz you were the defensive coordinator at the time. And it was interesting to me because our defense was lights out. I mean, you guys, I mean, this is no joke. It was like we had a great offense, because our defense was outstanding, like, even better. I mean, you had some dudes you'd recruited. I mean…

Greg: Sure. Jeff Brown and Herve Domus and guy after guy and oh, yeah, they were great players.

Manny: They were great guys, great coach! And, you know, Joe basically just left us alone. I mean, you ran the defense, we ran the offense, and it was just, you know, just what do you say, Don't tell me how rocky the seas are-

Greg: Just bring in the ships.

Manny: And it was like, okay! This is different than Bill Snyder, for me. It was just a different way of doing things.

Greg: Right. He wasn't not a meddler, he would let you do your thing. I mean, he'd asked me if something went wrong. He said, Well, you know, what's the story?

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: But that was the great thing about coach Gardi, he’d just let you coach. And the other thing, Manny, it's that he let you run the offense, I ran the defense, and he did all the special teams.

Manny: Loved it.

Greg: He loved the special teams because that's what he went to the Jets as.

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: As Lou Holtz’ special teams coach for one year. And, he did that for a couple years, but then he became the coordinator for the Jets.

Manny: Yeah. Now, you know, it's interesting. It's talked about Joe for a little bit. It's like, you know, he passed away-

Greg: Nine years ago, like five days ago.


Manny: Geez, nine years ago in June, and he, you know, he had been the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets when they had the sack exchange defense. So it was like Klecko, Gastineau.

Greg: Marty Lyons, Greg Buttle…

Manny: Geez... Tremendous, unbelievable.

Greg: And the nice thing about that. Those guys would always be there, they would come back, they'd come to Hofstra. We always get Marty every year to help us play in this tournament. Greg Buttle, he had a big restaurant he gave us a card. We can go down here anything you want at half price. Yeah, it was all great stuff. You know those guys really like coach Gardi

Manny: And I mean, and Joe was fantastic in so many ways. And it's like he had a storied career. I think he had gotten out of the NFL. After it was over in the NFL for him as a coach. He got into the officiating in the National Football League.

Greg: That's when they started replay. He was one of the replay guys. Back in those days, they had a guy at every game. And when there was a replay problem, they would put the camera on him and say, this is Joe Gardi making a decision here. You know, so it's kind of low pressure on it.

Manny: But now, how did he land the job at Hofstra? Because he had been out of coaching for a little while.

Greg: I think he was out for five years. And I think just through the connections with the Jets, you A lot of people knew a lot of the Hofstra people knew the jet people and you know, Joe, Margiatta, and George Dempster. Those guys knew all those people and they knew Joe's name, obviously. And he had a good reputation. And I think that's kind of how he landed that thing. Jim Short.

Manny: The President was the big one. He had played football at Hofstra. Right?

Greg: Jim?

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: Well, that was the greatest thing about Hofstra ever. The head of the Booster Club, who was a big lawyer, the President, and the athletic director all played football at Hofstra.

Manny: Yeah. So I had never, I'm not sure-

Greg: Doesn't get any better than that.

Manny: No, it really doesn't because they got what it took. They understood that football was a vehicle for public relations for the university. And it not that it put it on the map, but it just everybody pays attention to that and they fall and it's a renewal every year. And Hofstra was vibrant at that point in time.

Greg: Right. And I remember Jim short saying, like the year before you got there, we got to the semi finals of the Division Three. Well, the New York Times did a whole half page sports article about our team and how great we were! We were 12-0, and Jim short said to us, he says that's worth $100,000 ad.

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: They have that in the New York Times or you know, and you know, the New York media they anytime they mentioned your name that's worth money.

Manny: It really did and the campus is beautiful. And then and then as you guys were there, I think after three years I left and I went back to Kansas State and I would always watch and see how you guys are doing.

Greg: Right t

Manny: Then you really I mean, we established it as a one double a program then you guys just took it

to a whole different level.

Greg: Well, right and it's those all those guys we recruited like when you were there, those couple years where we were that transition. Wayne Chrebet and those guys, they all became juniors and Herve and they were all like juniors and seniors you know after you had left so we were beaten all these one double A teams.

Manny: Yeah. Without the scholarships. I can remember when I was there we there's a couple games that stuck out but one particular one, we're playing against University of Maine. Right in November.

Greg: Oh, up in the mud hole.


Manny: It was mud, snow, sleet all four quarters. It was like, it goes from winter to summer. Yeah, is a crazy day. And we're like, we’re getting after them. I mean, both sides of the ball, but they can't move the ball, we're scoring, and I think it started snowing and who was oh, I think it was Raphael Morales.

Greg: I remember, yes.

Manny: a little slot receiver from Puerto Rico. He catches a choice wrap for a touchdown and just smokes them and he comes back and you know, it's snowing at that point and I think he's like slid into, like having fun.

Greg: Right, right.

Manny: And Joe looks at me. He goes, get that under control. He goes, we're trying to get in this league. And if we can't run the score up on these guys, they’re not gonna let us in their league. Which was the Yankee conference. Joe was always worried about us because we were independent.

Greg: Right.

Manny: And the Patriot League wouldn't let us come in. And then they were trying to get into the Yankee conference at the time-

Greg: right.

Manny: was those schools like Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, which

Greg: Yeah, they changed it to the Atlantic 10 at one point now there's a C or CC, I don't know what they are. whatever theyare,

Manny: Yeah, I mean, so it was fun. You know, because we were, I think it got to the point where Hofstra had built a powerhouse on the East Coast.

Greg: Unbelieveable

Manny: And you look at some of the great coaches that have come through there, I mean, we talked about Rob Spencer's a fantastic football coach himself.

Greg: Right.

Manny: Give me a few guys, because you were there longer with Joe than any other assistant coach.

Greg: Right, right,

Manny: Who are some other guys that went through as coaches?

Greg: It's funny you mentioned that because, you know, like after you left, we had Mike McCarty came in and ran basically the same thing you were running. And then we have some young assistants, Dave Brock, who's now with the Atlanta Falcons. He was an assistant on that staff. Dan Quinn was on our defensive staff, he was our D line coach. He's the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Raheem Morris was playing for us. He's the assistant head coach of the Falcons and was the head coach at Tampa Bay. Kyle Flood was our o line coach. He was the head coach at Rutgers. He's at Alabama right now. Sarah Gigantino, my daughter, is the assistant to Dan Quinn at the Atlanta Falcons. So we've had some great great coaches come through there and there's many, many more like Bobby Mack’s, he's the DC at Stony Brook now and, you know, good good guys came through.

Manny: It's funny in the offshoot, Some of this stuff it's like but you don't realize and in the coaching profession you get a guy like Vinnie Sinagra. Right. Vinnie came in at one year and he had never coached receivers and I said I’ll coach and I'll show you. Let's just do this and he did a great job. He was a defensive guy that Joe knew because Joe wanted to hire, if he could get an Italian coach.

Greg: Hahaha!

Manny: You know, you get it. So we connected and then later on he goes to work for a buddy of mine at Fordham, Nick Cuterrel.

Greg: Yeah.

Manny: And now it's crazy because he goes there with the connections he makes. Was it the head coach at Temple Collins, right Jeff?

Greg: Right

Manny: Yeah. And you know, he I see him down in Philadelphia, he's working at Temple for him.

Greg: And now he's at Georgia Tech, it snowballs, you know?

Manny: It really does

Greg: And that's the interesting thing about coaching is the people you meet and along the way.

Manny: Oh, it is

Greg: It's fantastic. It's fantastic.


Manny: It is and you know So when I think about Hofstra and I think about you know, we talked about all these great coaches that have come through there and these guys could develop talent and they could. They could flat out coach and obviously these guys you're talking about at the highest levels. And but these players I mean, you knew more than anybody else because I think over time without question the top recruiter there and when you look at the guys that were coming through in Hempstead, New York, that ended up being outstanding players in the in the three years I was there, you know, you get a guy like de Fiori

Greg: Unbelieveable, you know, Domingo

Manny: Wayne Chrebet, Domingo Graham. And that's just-

Greg: Rahim. Was he there? And Lance came a year after sholters.

Manny: Yeah, right. And oh, yeah, Wayne Chrebet he wasn't bad.

Greg: No, he wasn't too bad.

Manny: Yeah. Yeah, and there's so many. I mean, you know, we're talking about the NFL players. They came out of a school like that. Those initial guys I just talked about. They didn't even come with scholarships. We were need based

Greg: Need based.

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: Well, the year before you got there. We, you know, we were trying to, we didn't know anybody. And then we got this kid transferred in from Delaware started out sound like he gets drafted by the Seahawks. That's when they had 12 rounds of the draft. And then, you know, then Wayne came, then De Fiori, then Damingo, that was a whole group of guys we had all together that were outstanding.

Manny: Here's a guy, as you're saying this, Owen Gardiner.

Greg: Owen Gardiner. Now that's, that should be on 30 for 30 ESPN

Manny: What a story because you signed him and then you had a little the Ant Man.

Greg: Yeah. Noah Carter.

Manny: Yeah. And he had brought these guys up from Fort Lauderdale

Greg: From St. Thomas Aquinas. My good friend George Smith.

Manny: Yeah,

Greg: he says he show you know, back in those days, there was not a lot of eaten there was 16 millimeter film, or maybe we're just starting videotapes then. And, you know, he says, Well, I got this guard or center. He goes very athletic kid blah, blah. And he goes, but he's got one problem was What do you mean? He goes he's got a withered arm.

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: So what do you mean? He says, well, as a child, he went through a sliding glass door and severed his veins and arteries and nerves and his arm, his arm never developed. So I was like, I don't know. But anyway, this guy was so athletic. Owen Gardiner, he came in, you know, this, he started every game for four years,

Manny: Center for me when I was there the right time.

Greg: He was the only guy you could he could snap and pull, like, do anything on it,

Manny: I think and I could be off but I mean, I guess he was maybe 6’2”/6’3”

Greg: 6’2”

Manny: Yeah, and probably about 250

Greg: 70/60 as he got bigger.

Manny: Yeah, and I am almost certain cuz we used to be the ones you and I, and Joe would like to do the 40’s.

Greg: Right

Manny: and he was in the 4.7s.

Greg: Yeah. And he ran 4.7, he ran really good. Yeah. But if you think Manny that line. We had Owen at center, then we had the Damingo at guard and Fiori at tackle, who both played in the NFL.

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: I mean long for a long time. And then I don't know who else was on those other spots. But I mean, that was a heck of a line. And those three I think, all started for four years.

Manny: Yes, they did.

Greg: So

Manny: Yeah, that was a guys like Steve chmela was in their daily.

Greg: Yep.

Manny: You know, and then they graduate through and, you know, Franklin, man, he was the first online coach I've worked with,

Greg: right. I was just gonna say, I just saw Frank at the Hofstra union.

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: Yeah, I haven't seen him in years. Yeah, but you know, continuing with that theme there of these NFL guys. I left Hofstra in ‘98 and went to Cornell for three years. When I came back, you know we again, you know, we were, we had a tough year my second or third year back but our first year back we won the one the league. We were in the A10 at the time, which was the old Yankee conference. Well, we, you know, we recruited a young kid named Marques Colston, you might have heard of Steven bone, Willie Cologne. Renault Williams was there at the time. Kyle Arrington came a couple years later, but these guys all played in the NFL for years. Willie played for eight or nine years with the Steelers and has a Super Bowl ring. Marques played for the saints. You know, everybody knows Marques Colston, you know has him and Drew Brees, I don't know if you this but him and Brees, are the fifth all time Quarterback/Receiver touchdown combination in the NFL history. History of the NFL, that's amazing.

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: Amazing. And then, you know, Bowen. Steven Bowen played, I don't know, 10 years in the league. We didn't even mention Lynch Sholters who was an all pro player that was drafted by the niners. Gio Carmozzi, back in the day, you know, of course, that didn't work out great for him. But, you know, he got drafted in the third round,

Manny: It was early by the niners.

Greg: Niners. Yeah, and then, but all those guys ended up, until Hofstra dropped football probably 12 years ago. Maybe, yeah, about 12 years ago. We had a kid still in the NFL Kyle. Eric. He was still playing for the ravens two years ago. So it was a long, long time. Those guys all played. And yeah, they were they were great players

Manny: Yeah great players. Good coaches, fantastic coaches, you know, a head coach that would let guys coach and did it right. And in the end, it got crazy.

Greg: Well, I always say, I don't know for sure, but I think three things happened.

Manny: Okay.

Greg: President short retired, Joe Margiatto, who we spoke about before, the head of the Booster Club and the big lawyer, he passed away, and the Jets moved off campus. So those three things happened within a two year span. And then they dropped football.

Manny: Yeah. It all happened so fast. You had been gone.

Greg: And so they got a new president. Yeah, I was gone.

Manny: Yeah, you had left and then they hired who was the head coach..

Greg: Cohen. A guy named Dave Cohen. So coach, Gardi retired and then the AD and this guy had relationships from before so he brought him in and we were all gone.

Manny: Yeah.


Greg: In fact, I was up in Bryant, we played them. We played Hofstra up in Bryant. And then they dropped football.

Manny: Yeah, remarkable. I mean, I remember hearing about this and I'm like, how can this even be? It just came out of left field. And it was, from what I gather, talking to some people that were there at the time, it actually all went down. It was like it just came like out of left field. They were shocked. Next thing you know, they've got colleges on campus trying to get their players because they had they got releases, and

Greg: they all had a blanket release. I was recruiting in Long Island that day. It happened

Manny: Really?

Greg: That afternoon, I was over at the complex. And Komall Roy, who was one of our great receivers. He was coaching their receivers at the time. So you know, he took care of me I got to talk to a lot of the players and you know, it was heartbreaking. It was heartbreaking.

Manny: It is because You think about it all that time at Hofstra, you know, they built basically a juggernaut. And then it went during that time you're looking at it and it's like, Stony Brook was like Division Three, the beginning, they start to take off because I think Jimmy Fiore was the AD over there.

Greg: Who played for us. Yeah.

Manny: And and you look at it and you think, Oh my goodness, it's like all of a sudden, if somebody was in a time capsule and just woke up today in Long Island, and went over to Stony Brook, and then went over to Hofstra, they would be in a state of shock.

Greg: I would say so. Well you were there when we built the stadium at Hofstra, right? we did the Margiatto Hall, we redid the stadium. Well, you know what happened Manny? And when I went back that day, they dropped football. lacrosse had the whole Margiatto Hall. They had already moved football out of it, into the press box. And it was disheartening. It was terrible.

Manny: And the thing is you bring up lacrosse for instance, okay, I had never when I came to Long Island I'd never seen Lacrosse. Now you hear of it, but you just know this wasn't my part of my world.

Greg: Sure.

Manny: I remember coming up in the stadium that spring I was like, rockin as late as loud What is going on? It's like, we didn't have spring ball right? Now looking in and there was this kid Mark Cox was like running around playing lacrosse. Great superback for us as a player and, and I look around and then I'm like, geez, this is a really cool sport. It is a great sport. It was. Yeah. And as I found out over the time member Duncan Smith,

Greg: yeah, sure.

Manny: You know, from Manhasset?

Greg: Yes, up there.

Manny: And he would tell us about the stories of Jim Brown and playing lacrosse and everything and, and then I think now it's like, when we were there, John Danowski was the lacrosse coach, who's now lacrosse coach at Duke.

Greg: Sure.

Manny: You know, and he was, we were all in that same office, endzone complex together. And it was he was, I mean, John's a great guy.

Greg: Right

Manny: and I think we all got along great and then all of a sudden 90% of it was football up there because it's just him and maybe an assistant all that.

Greg: Right and now it's gone the whole different way.

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: Well remember our member our little corner Shanahan?

Manny: Yeah

Greg: Pat Shanahan his brother played at post, Dave. Well, the youngest they had like four brothers, the youngest of them, Doug, he came in to play for us. He's the best lacrosse player. He was the guy. He was our strong safety. And he won like the equivalent to the Heisman Trophy in lacrosse the first year they had it. It's called like the twingalinger award or something. Yeah, he won that. Wow. And he was our strong safety and he won that award. It’s just amazing.

Manny: It is amazing and it's sad. I think because so many people right now, as great of a university as Hofstra is, and there's some messing

Greg: Yes.

Manny: You know, you don't want to be condescending that places don't play football but, you know, I forget who it was. It was woody hoax, Woody Hayes or Lou Holtz, one of those guys said that we don't have a football program. It's basically what is it a glorified study hall? But it is what it is

Greg: It's interesting you say that because when I went to Bryant, their president played at the Naval Academy.

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: They didn't have football. So this was five years prior. So he said, he goes, we got to have football. You got to have something from a fall afternoon to have homecoming and to have, you know, parents day and to have you know, some start to some rivalries. And he started football just because of what you're saying. And that was missing. He said there was something missing

Manny: It is and in football, it does bring a certain vibrancy to any campus at any level. I mean, high school, college, we know what the pros do, but that's, that's why we do what we do.

Greg: That's right. That's right, and we're mentioning a lot of guys, you know, winning like Charlie Adams we didn't mention them but I mentioned Kumall. We had such good guys that all played together. But it's and those NFL guys those are great guys and we're happy about them all but you know what's the Tyree Allison's and those guys that we got out of the city who were came from nothing and now they're teachers and businessmen and doing great.

Manny: You know, I had put an old VHS tape on a few years back and it was a Hofstra against maybe Fordham or something. And there's George Baizen, George from Philadelphia, you know, great quarterback I think when he was done he had a bunch of the records there right? Well, the game all around I mean, they're all right.

Greg: Around, forget about it.

Manny: Right.

Greg: The game I'll never forget. Well, I don't know if it's your first game, or ealy one of the games. We go in, well the first quarterback breaks his finger, the second quarterback, George splits his webbing on his finger on his hand he's out so we're down to the third quarterback in the first quarter I don't,was that your first year?

Manny: First game ever that's what I thought as we lose Timmy Lynch right, George Baisel, and then all of a sudden we've got Michael Dodo.

Greg: Mike Dodos in there,freshman.

Manny: Freshman, true freshman. Win the game and then it took, and this is what was fascinating that we had a rule there. I don't know if it was my rule or Joe's rule somehow he said you know you don't lose your job to an injury. Right? You know, when you're back ready to go you get your job back. So then Dodo starts the next game. Lights somebody up for like 500 yards one game and then and then George Baisel comes back. And he plans a CW post which is now Liu Post.

Greg: Liu. Right? Yeah.

Manny: And he lights them up and I think he got a 500 yard game and

Greg: I think you're right.

Manny: I think it's like four or five games later and we're playing Fordham, and Timmy Lynch is back at seven games into the season.

Greg: Right.

Manny: And Timmy Lynch comes back and into this day I'm thinking like, I'm magical. It's my first OC job, right? And I'm realizing those guys are magic.

Greg: Yeah, they were

Manny: And he comes out in that game. He goes 50 of 64, for 585 yards passing against Fordham. And it was at the time when that game was over. We're out in the parking lot. And our SID Jim Sheehan,right? Jim says that was the longest game in the history of college football at that time because we’re both throwing it around and they couldn't stop it.

Greg: Was Joe Morehead the head coach, the quarterback at Fordham at that time?

Manny: Yes, he was the quarterback at that time. Yeah.

Greg: Isn't that something that something That's, that's amazing.

Manny: It is, so you know, there's so many good things and the connection you get with those players even to this day, you know, if it wasn’t for Facebook, I wouldn't be hearing from these guys.

Greg: Right.

Manny: And you also had mentioned what you guys did with every like Christmas time you have like a Hofstra reunion. So how does that work?

Greg: Wellt, he didn't put the year before you got there. We had a receiver named Chris Cozyellow. And he owns restaurants.

Manny: Okay

Greg: So he now owns one in Manhattan. Oh, great place. So about, I'm gonna say 10 years ago. Carlos Gray, started at

Manny: Rahway, New Jersey,

Greg: I guess they all got together just on the impromptu thing. And then 25 guys showed up. And they all threw in 50 bucks or whatever they did. So the next year was like, let's invite everybody. So now I went. I went last year. It was like 125 guys from all the years just, you know a lot old stories and you know they get exaggerated every year but it was just a great time for all these guys.

Manny: Yeah, that was a great experience and you know it’s just something that you know-

Greg: There's another legend we got in

Manny: Yeah, he'll be on here later and so you know the whole experience and how it's continuing and in a case you hear like oh Hofstra should bring back football and maybe they will because a lot of programs are getting started all over the country. I mean, it's funny, there's less dropping than there are starting up, you know, around everywhere. I mean, you look at some of the schools in Florida we had talked about that started football in West Florida. You got other wonderful campuses. You know, Florida Gulf Coast. Great looking place, should be playing football, and Hofstra should be playing

Greg: no question.

Manny: Yeah.

Greg: So as we as they talk about Hofstra in the annals when coach Gardi was there, he used to say, our famous alumni, you know, Francis Ford Coppola and Madeline Kahn's on now they add Wayne Chrebet. And they have Marques Colston and they had those names of the guys we coached. And there's like, like I said, there's like six guys that have Super Bowl rings that we coached.

Manny: Yeah, it's fantastic.

Greg: But yeah, that was a great run we had up there. And after that, the end of my story is I went to Bryant University after that.

Manny: Yeah, it's been something else and you're still. Yeah, the thing is, and for people listening and watching on this is, you know, I think one of the things that always was interesting to me is your background in coaching you had I mean, you've had some legendary guys you'd learn from

Greg: Oh, no question.

Manny: You think about Bill Arnsparker.


Greg: Yeah I worked with him for two years up at Cornell. I mean, I can do a couple name drops, but two things that happened along the way with that as an assistant at Davidson. And our defense coordinator who's from West Virginia. So he says comes in one day, and it's me, Dave Unger, and inside Jim cycle and he says. He goes, Well, there's a guy up at Michigan State, the events coordinator whose wife is from my hometown. This guy's name is Nick Saban. He says he goes, I'm gonna call him and you know, kind of get into the conversations and see if we can come visit. So me, Cy, and Dave Unger, we fly up to Michigan State on a Sunday, I'll never forget this. We fly up on a Saturday night to get to stay over so it was a cheaper flight and we're going to stay Sunday, Monday and finally Tuesday or Wednesday. But it didn't matter. So He called this Nick Saban. And then Saban says, Well, I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll meet you guys at the office Sunday at 10 o'clock in the morning. He goes, but he gets there and he opens the door. And, you know, what's the old 16 millimeter film and he says, “Look, I can't stay here. My wife will kill me. If I take a Sunday, a whole Sunday, it’s the only day I got off. So I'll set you guys up. You can watch all the films you want. And then tomorrow, we're gonna have our meetings, you can come into the meetings.” So that's 10 o'clock in the morning. Lo and behold, it's 2:30 he's still talking to us. Right? And finally, finally, he says, I gotta get out of here. Now they're running the old I don't know, you heard of the stunt four-three. The Michigan state's done four three because George Perlis bought it from the Steelers. So he explains his whole defense to us so he leaves. It's like three o'clock he leaves he comes back two hours later, or whatever. And he goes, My wife's making dinner. You guys come over for dinner so he has inside his house. So then we stay with him for three days and we learned the stunt for three, which was an interesting, interesting defense that you know, they ran and they were very successful. Then he was an influence in that part of it. And then when I went to Hofstra, obviously coach Gardi had, hey, here's our defense. Here's what we're going to do. We went over and got the jet playbooks and here it is. Wow. And then I work with Bill you know, and then through the years you know, you pick up a lot of things and it's, I think the people you work with, Manny. Just great people. You know,that's the thing about it. The kids and the guys you work with. They're influenced by my life you know and influence on my kids lives. You know, my Sarah. My daughter Sarah, with the Falcons. You know, all she ever knew was coaches. There. Like all these uncles, so I used to bring her to the convention.

Manny: I’d see Sarah growing up every year.

Greg: She was just the director of football operations from Northeastern at Georgia State now she's at the Falcons. She's doing well.

Manny: She certainly gets it. I’ll have to have her on this podcast.

Greg: Yeah, you should

Manny: You know, it's fantastic. And Greg, you know, I think without question, you know, I've always respected what you’ve done on defense, you made my life really easy running that offense years ago, I got way too much credit for it. But that's, I think part of the offense and, you know, offensive guys get all the score and the defensive guys really are doing all the work.But it is what it is.

Greg: Yeah.

Manny: And you've had a fantastic career. And I know you got a lot more still coming down the pike. And I think what's really awesome To me, it's when you think about the coaching profession you get it. There's such a dichotomy you get these really young guys, you know, some of them are fantastic like Lincoln Riley and you get these guys get it and some of them bomb, but it happens, right? And then you've got these when you look at the highest levels in the National Football League, the top places, you've got these guys that I always consider master coaches, these master coaches are guys like yourself that just know they can literally shut your eyes and hear a guy make a tackle. No, it's the right. The right way to do it. Ya know, and it's experienced.

Greg: I think the Rams have the

the young head coach and the old defense coordinator.

Manny: Oh, yeah, right.

Greg: He's twice as old as the head coach

Manny: Sure he is, but he wouldn't, the head coach should and yeah, I get it. He gives Nick Vegas a lot of credit. But that defense is wise to do what you do and it's, you know, when you do it for so many years

Greg: As a DC for 28 years in college, I coached 40 years. And you know, when it's your stuff and just like you, when something goes wrong, you know exactly what it was. You don't have to see it again on the film, you say, oh, here's what they did. Here's what happened, he did on this, you've been on that, or you know, for you would be a protection broke down or somebody missed the block. You know, you just see it fast.

Manny: You really do. And I think even the guys, the young guys that I've seen, that are fantastic, are the ones that are humble. And they understand it is a process to get to mastery. And that's the best guys I've seen. So those guys are out there and you're young. We know a lot of young coaches are listening and watching this. It's like that's what it's about. Take it, it's a process. It's not about the grind and all that kind of stuff. It's just getting and making progress and learning from masters which you've had. And I think all in all, it makes our profession great.

Greg: I think I think the thing about you got to know, like, if something goes wrong, you got to go, what are we going to do next? That's right. And that's the thing the experience gives you. You know, I've seen that before. We're going to go do this. You know, somebody somebody's scheming?

Manny: Yep. Oh, yeah, no doubt. That's fantastic. So let's let's plan next December. Let me know when the Hofstra reunion is.

Greg: I will.

Manny: I need to come to New York City and check out here recruiting.

Greg: We'll get you on that.

Manny: Yeah. That'd be great. Yeah, thanks again, Greg. I appreciate it.

Greg: I appreciate it Manny. Thanks for having me and good luck this season.


Manny: Well, that was an awesome interview with Greg Gigantino and one of the finest defensive coordinators I've been fortunate enough to work with. And now it's time to segway into our insight access feature, which I basically give you some tips and reminders.

as coaches understand that terminology, and what I want to share with you is a story a few years back when I was coaching at Bethany college, NAIA school, in Linzburg, Kansas, and that's where I first learned about this next product and how it affected me. It was interesting, you know, my wife, Elizabeth, Lizzie is a had been at the time into physical therapy. She was a PTA and she worked in the industry and so forth. And we just had our son Eli, and she decided to stay home and when she was home, she was doing an internship and studying with an essential oil company doTERRA and, you know, it sort of played into what she did and it was just something to work on and gave us an uptrend because from that point on, she never went back to That kind of work again, she just got full time into working as a wellness advocate in doTERRA. Now, the story is this, my staff and I were heading down to see a good friend of mine Bob Stoops, in Norman and the rest of his staff down at the University of Oklahoma. And they literally that morning, at our house at two stories in it. I'm carrying our son down the steps and I trip and fortunately, I saved him, you know, but my ankle like just my left ankle just literally blew up. It was just like it just got inflamed. I tripped carrying him. It was early in the morning where I'm like, Oh, this is great. This thing's starting to become like a grapefruit and all this. Like, oh, man, our whole staff was getting ready to head down to Norman. We're going to talk ball and do all these things. And I'm like, What am I going to do? I asked Lizzy I said, I don't know that I can make the trip right now because it's going to be uncomfortable driving about a little over two hours down to Norman. And she goes here, let's do this. So she gets this oil and it's called Deep Blue. Right? This is what it looks like right here. Okay? And she gives it to me and says, Look, this has been being used by NFL teams, by doctors all over the place as and in all types of wellness physicians and so forth. It's replacing bio freeze, which you see a lot of times in offices, and it's very powerful. And she says what you do is just take some a few drops of this oil, let's put it on your ankle, which at this point, like I said, was ballooning up and then after you put the oil on, we'll put some of this rub on which is like, think of it you know, it's a lotion, you know, that has this in it. And then we just wrapped it up and put some heat on it, which I'm thinking just happened Should I put ice or heat and she says no, she put the heat on there because then it drives all these very powerful certified therapeutic grade essential oils into your right into the ankle into the muscles and everything like that. So we put it on, wrap it up, warm it up, and then it starts to feel better. Like I'm talking within a half an hour, it starts to feel better. So we did one more application as I'm gonna try to make it so I get in the car, and I drive down and literally, and this is no kidding. over two hours, each just dropped to regular size. I'm like, This is crazy. I just kept applying this oil. The whole time I'm down there and, it smelled good. It was easy to go through this and I was able to move around. Just find all weekend and see some good friends down there.

And it worked out great. That was miraculous for me. So I said, Hey, I'm hooked. I mean, for me, it's like, I've got to make sure it works before I, you know, tell people about something like this, so I come back, I talked to my athletic trainer, I do a little research on it. And he goes, Yeah, this stuff is really good. Let's use this with our players. So I have over the years from Bethany college, our trainer there, and then when I went to Weidner our trainer there and now here at Defiance College, every trainer I've had from that point on uses this and a whole bunch of other ones in there in the training room. And in fact, what was interesting is that BYU Steve pin Kok the athletic Trent lytic trend are there under there has been has been using these products for years. So, Deep Blue, powerful. I can remember, you know,

Players were I would the initial prognosis was, Hey, he's out. He pulled a hamstring and he's out for three or four weeks to get them back to full speed. And it was three or four days when they put therapy on this and we got a guy back the next week my very best one of my best receivers at Bethany college. He yanked it and they said the trainer says, I don't know what we're going to do so we went with this product. So I mean, look, I'm not a doctor. But I'll tell you this, this product is fantastic. It works. And if you're interested in it, just take a look. There'll be a link here on my website. That will give you a little bit more information on it. Deep Blue is fantastic. And so like at our place, we buy the oil and we have it in the training room. Lot of times our players will get this and keep this for themselves. Our players also like this deep blue rub in a tube, you know, that basically has four ounces and lasts pretty much the whole season or so. And then in our locker room and training room, we put this industrial sized one right there with the big pump on it. And we just keep it there. So all the whole team can use this as they wish. So this gives us a good opportunity to get our guys back if you get sore from working out. It's really good about that. And more information on the website for you as well. So feel free to go to and check that out. I want to thank you for coming on this episode and listen to this podcast. It's been fantastic for us. When you're watching this on YouTube, click subscribe up in the top corner that'd be fantastic. So you get alerted to that. But the best deal is to go into new Matt you will be able to sign up there and you will receive my free tool to stay and it's it's a report I put together 30 some pages Talking about what you can do what I can do to create raving fans in the fall, but I think that you'll get that report when you sign up. And that's for a limited time only. So you don't see it on there too late, but we're going to put that out there for you on the front end. And thank you very much.

Links To Check Out:

Comment Below

What did you think about the glory days at Hofstra?

Leave a reply and let me know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

2 thoughts on “Episode 5: Greg Gigantino (Hofstra University)

    • Michael, Thanks so much. Coach Gigantino has always been an inspiration to me and I really enjoyed listening to this episode again.

Related Posts

Episode 13: George Matsakis (North Texas)

Manny sat down with his brother, George Matsakis (University of North Texas), at the AFCA Conference in Nashville. They discuss George’s career path and how he got into Football Operations. For coaches wondering about what goes into the administrative side of running a football program, this episode will definitely open your eyes to some of the things that goes into it.

Read More »

Special Report: The State of Football in America!

The Covid-19 Pandemic has taken a strong hold on our country, and football in the fall is slowly slipping away from a lot of different areas and leagues. On this episode, Manny sits down with Lynn Groll of Black Swamp Football, and Jerry Buti, the Athletic Director at Defiance High School. They discuss what is currently happening in Northwest Ohio at all levels of football, as well as around the country. A great listen to stay up to date on what’s happening with fall football, as well as getting an inside perspective on how different places are dealing with the pandemic.

Read More »

Inside Access: The Unfair Advantage of Aging

On this Inside Access Episode, Manny discusses how to embrace the effects of aging and use them to your advantage. Not everyone views growing older as a good thing, but you should! In this short episode, Manny tries to open your eyes to how you can appreciate your later years and use your life experience to help Optimize Your Life.

Read More »

Episode 12: Dale Carlson (Program Creator)

Dale Carlson spoke with Manny at the 2020 AFCA Convention in Nashville about his career in college football. The former Head Coach at Tri-State (now Trine University), Ohio Dominican, and Valparaiso, Dale discusses what it’s like starting programs from scratch and also walking into some different situations. This interview is a great listen for anyone wanting to know more about what goes into creating a successful program, and how to avoid some mistakes along the way.

Read More »
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial