Tuesday, September 4, 2012

SxSE: Coach John Cohen's Mississippi State Bulldogs

♦ Recruiting footprint:  Based on recent rosters, Cohen tends to recruit from Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Florida, Georgia, plus random players from LA, MD, NJ and MO. 

♦ Mississippi State Head Coach John Cohen began his career as an assistant coach at Missouri from 1992-1997. He was the chief assistant coach for his final three seasons and served as the Tigers' hitting instructor and recruiting coordinator.

In 1996, Missouri won the Big Eight championship and advanced to an NCAA Regional for the first time in 16 years. The Tigers broke nine offensive school records that season, part of 17 total records set by Cohen's offenses in his six years (from bestbaseballswing.com)

After five seaons as head coach at Kentucky (where he took the historically cellar-dwelling Wildcats to an SEC championship in 2006), Cohen was named to replace legendary MSU Head Coach Ron Polk in 2008.   Polk threw a huge hissy-fit, but apparently there was no lasting enmity between the two.

♦ From SEBaseball.com, 3/20/12: John Cohen says what he thinks and doesn't really care who hears it. The Mississippi State skipper has a solid club this Spring and has his squad fighting through a tough rash of injuries.
. . .
After all of the injury challenges, Mississippi State had their chances in Friday's opener as starter Chris Stratton struck out 17 LSU batters but the Tigers won 3-2 in 10 innings.

After the game a fired up Cohen had this doozy of a sound-bite: "We out-competed LSU. We out-worked LSU. We just had some things not go our way at the end."

Quotes like those fire up fanbases on both sides. Writers love to hear it because stories containing them are more likely to be read. That said, you sure don't hear a lot of "we out-whatevered" the opponent quotes these days.

I'm sure many coaches feel like they whipped their opponent everywhere but the run column. Few say it publicly. Part of me likes the bravado. Part of me thinks you should take the high road with comments about other teams - especially after they just beat you.

♦ John Cohen sums up his non-philosophical hitting philosophy in No Philosophy, just Precision (bestbaseballswing.com)

There's a lot of hitting philosophy out there. Precision is what gets the job done, though. Let's take a look at the battle between a pitcher and a hitter to illustrate this point. A pitcher is trying to load up his energy and deliver it to a precise target. The hitter is trying to do the same thing - load up his energy and release it right back up the middle. The pitcher's job is to disrupt the hitters flow of energy with either pitch placement or by changing speeds. Take a curve ball - the curve ball reaches its apex and most hitters will follow the pitch up and their flow of energy is up instead of straight back toward the pitcher. Have you ever seen a hitter miss underneath a curve ball? Hardly, they miss above it and the pitcher has accomplished his goal of disrupting the hitters energy. Philosophy says stay back to hit the curve ball. Precision says work beneath the plane of the breaking ball.

♦ I think the coaching staff has really done a great job building a strong foundation there. I like that the staff was patient and built around high-upside high school kids, even though they knew there would be some risk that it might take those players a year or two to develop. But they have been rewarded for that approach with one of the deepest pitching staffs in college baseball, which has led to the team’s recent resurgence. (Jim Callis, quoted in ClarionLedger.com)

JohnCohenBaseball.com has several articles about Cohen's coaching methods, as well as DVDs available (for a price)

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