As widely feared by many, Mississippi State University has hired John Cohen away from UK.
Cohen has been the architect of an astonishing turnaround in UK baseball, taking a moribund program and turning it into one of the best in the SEC. For several years now, speculation has been that Cohen would move on to greener pastures if one of the great SEC baseball programs came calling. MSU is one of the winningest programs in the SEC, and Cohen played under outgoing coach Ron Polk, who led eight MSU teams to the College World Series and 23 to the NCAA tournament in his 29 seasons at MSU.
This is a tough break for UK but one that many anticipated. It is hard to blame Cohen for going home to such a storied powerhouse, and although we will undoubtedly miss him, life goes on. UK had a great recruiting class coming in next year, one of the tops in the nation, but I expect that to change drastically now that Cohen is gone.
UK wasted no time in naming Henderson as the successor to Cohen. Henderson has been UK's associate head coach and pitching coach for the last 5 years. Henderson was formerly at Oregon State before coming here (looks like Barnhart has managed to get OSU guys into lots of UK jobs) and has served as pitching coach at Florida.
Henderson has really big shoes to fill, and I hope he is up to the job. I confess, I am not particularly optimistic -- Henderson has been in coaching a long time and has never generated the kind of success that Cohen did. He is no doubt a fine coach, but in all honesty, I have my doubts about Henderson's ability to keep UK at its current level. But then again, Barnhart hired Cohen, so I suppose I should have a little faith in the guy. He clearly knows what he is doing, and I think I'll just go on trust and, at least for the nonce, hope he turns out to be another Rich Brooks.