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 this afternoon after Cohen resigned at Kentucky. Mississippi State will hold a news conference tomorrow (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.
A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 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.
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. Polk openly lobbied 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, contacted late tonight, blasted Byrne's decision, saying he was "utterly cruel" for hiring Cohen and vowed to remove his name from the school's stadium and the school from his will.