Usually, I assume, when a new coach replaces a retiring legend, the ex-coach extends his hand and a rousing vote of confidence to the replacement. Not so with Mississippi State baseball coaching legend Ron Polk.
After John Cohen left Kentucky for his alma mater, where he played under Polk from 1987-’90, the outgoing MSU coach spoke out vehemently against the hire, as he wanted his assistant, Tommy Raffo, to be promoted. Polk, who stands as the all-time winningest coach in SEC history, had this to say:
I just got slapped in the face, punched in the stomach. All my coaches have been slapped in the face, punched in the stomach by a young athletic director who has absolutely no clue what he’s doing…within 48 hours, my name comes off the stadium, comes off the centerfield fence, the banner off the concourse comes down. It will remain down until (Byrne) gets fired or somebody runs him off.
Now he’s got me on the warpath and all I can do is hurt him. I’m going to do everything I can to make his life miserable.
That’s normal. Sounds like a good situation in Starkville for Cohen. Yeah, no crazy people or anything.
In all seriousness, this is very, very unfair to Coach Cohen. This is probably his dream job, and on the day he is announced, the man that he described as a “father figure” outwardly blasts the school’s decision to hire him. Polk went as far as to tell Cohen that he did not have his support. Furthermore, Cohen and Raffo played together at MSU and lead the Bulldogs to the CWS in 1990. Raffo has been an assistant in Starkville for the past 14 years. He offered no comment.
Ex-MSU coach rips AD on hire (Clarion-Ledger)