Cohen officially named MSU coach on Saturday

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - John Cohen will be returning home to
Mississippi State as its new baseball coach.
A spokesman confirmed the hire to The Associated Press late
Friday afternoon after Cohen resigned at Kentucky. Mississippi
State will hold a news conference Saturday to introduce its new
coach.
The former Mississippi State player led Kentucky to a regional
appearance this year and was considered a top candidate for the job
after Ron Polk announced his retirement this spring.
Cohen, 41, did not immediately return messages left on his cell
phone.
A native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., Cohen has coached at Kentucky
since 2004 after serving as an assistant at Florida. He was
175-112-1 with the Wildcats and has an overall record of 321-196-1
in nine years at Kentucky and Northwestern (La.) State. He was also
an assistant at Florida and Missouri.
Incoming Mississippi State athletic director Greg Byrne, who
made the hire, was out of the office and unavailable for comment.
Byrne and Cohen are familiar with each other from their days
together at Florida. This is the first hire for Byrne, who doesn't
officially take over for Larry Templeton until July.
Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart said Cohen told him
Friday morning he was resigning to take another job. Barnhart
promoted associate head coach Gary Henderson later Friday to
replace Cohen.
Polk resigned in March after 35 years as a head coach, 30 of
which were at Mississippi State, where he helped popularize the
sport of college baseball. The coach said his main reason for
leaving was that he no longer wished to deal with the NCAA, which
instituted several rules changes that Polk believes will gut the
sport.
His teams won five SEC titles, five SEC tournament championships
and made 23 trips to the postseason - eight to the College World
Series. He finished at No. 7 on the career victories list with
1,373 wins, but suffered his first losing season this spring.
Polk openly stumped for longtime assistant Tommy Raffo as his
replacement. He said if the school hired Raffo, also a former Polk
player, he would stick around and help with the transition. Polk
was in Athens for the Super Regional between North Carolina State
and Georgia and was unavailable for comment.
Cohen played for Polk from 1987-90 and finished his career as a
first-team all-SEC outfielder. He was drafted by the Minnesota
Twins, but after two years in the minor leagues he moved on to
Missouri, where he was an assistant for six seasons before taking
over at Northwestern State.
Mississippi State made four straight regional appearances, won
at least a share of three SEC titles and made one trip to the
College World Series during Cohen's playing days.
The Bulldogs hope Cohen can bring that kind of success again. He
put together one of the most successful runs in Kentucky history
and his first recruiting class finished with a school-record 151
wins.
The Wildcats set a team mark with 44 wins this season and broke
the school record in nine offensive and defensive categories.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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