After eight mostly successful seasons behind the helm of Mississippi State baseball, it was time for John Cohen to move on.
Shortly after Cohen was named the new director of athletics to replace Scott Stricklin, who left for Florida, LSU assistant Andy Cannizaro was tabbed as Cohen’s replacement as the head baseball coach. On Monday, Cannizaro was officially introduced in a press conference.
“To be able to be a head coach here at Mississippi State, I am extremely speechless and honored,” Cannizaro told 247Sports’ Paul Jones. “The fans are amazing, the players play hard and this is something I’ve always dreamed of being a part of.”
Cannizaro, a former Major-League infielder with the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, has some big shoes to fill. Cohen was coming off of an SEC Coach of the Year title and a season in which his Bulldogs finished first in the SEC West and made it to the Super Regionals of the NCAA tournament. In Cohen’s eight years, Mississippi State finished third or better in the SEC West five times, making the NCAA tournament each of those years.
Cannizaro jumps straight into the fall practice season with nine practices left before adjourning for winter break.
“We are going to try play intra-squad (scrimmages) as much as possible to give myself the opportunity to continue to evaluate the players that we have here, continue to see our arms throw, see out hitters hit and see our defense,” Cannizaro said.
Looking to continue their success, Bulldogs’ players were ready to get their new coach in and get back to work.
“We’re all excited,” Jake Mangum, reigning SEC Freshman of the Year, told Jones. “In our first meeting all the guys were ready to go and Sunday’s practice went great. He asked us simply to play hard and give me all your effort.”