Q&A: Mississippi State's John Cohen (Part Three)

John Cohen

Staff Writer

Mississippi State will soon open the doors to the completed new Dudy Noble Field.

MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen shared his thoughts earlier this week about the new Dudy Noble, the status of former baseball coach Gary Henderson and impressions after being MSU’s athletic director for over two years now.

SDN: Is everything on track for the opening of the new Dudy Noble Field and is everything going to be completed for the season opener in February?

Cohen: "Yes, I really think we’re still on track. We’ve had some weather that has stopped some progress. At the last minute when you’re trying to move a team into a facility as well, there are some things that fans won’t see that you have to get finished underneath.

"But yes, these construction crews have just worked so diligently to make sure everything is ready to go on opening day and we’re still very confident that’s going to happen."

SDN: As far as the things people will see, everything will be done though you expect? Like the Left Field Lofts, will those be completed by opening day?

Cohen: "It is our belief right now that the Lofts will be done for opening day."

SDN: Switching gears for a second, at one time you mentioned former interim head baseball coach Gary Henderson would have the opportunity to stick around Mississippi State and work in the athletic department should he choose to do so. Does he have any affiliation with MSU anymore?

Cohen: "Gary was offered that opportunity, but I think he wanted to take some time so he did not take us up on that offer. Again, I think the job he did for our baseball program was really outstanding, especially when you consider everything that took place over the course of that baseball season. So I wish the best for Gary. I’d help him find any opportunity out there that he’s looking for."

SDN: To wrap it up, you’ve been in this position for a little over a couple of years now. Has this job been what you hoped it would be and how has this gone for you would you say?

Cohen: "I feel privileged to be at Mississippi State for several reasons. The first of which is I love this family. I love the Mississippi State family. I always tell our student-athletes and I tell our staff this (that) when you’re in a family, things aren’t always easy. I have three sisters and a mother and we don’t always agree or get along great, but the point is, we have each other’s backs. When I say family, that’s what I mean. We take care of each other. I love being part of that family. This is the fifth institution I’ve had the chance to be a part of and I’m not sure everywhere I’ve ever been has had that feel to it.

"The other thing I feel privileged about is I feel that I work for the best president in the country. Nobody is more invested in Mississippi State than Mark Keenum. That’s a real privilege and I don’t take that for granted either because you look around the country and there has been a rift at times between athletics and the overall administration of a university. I feel like we are in lockstep with Mark Keenum and his administration on this campus and why wouldn’t you be? He’s a tremendous leader and really someone that gets athletics. In fact, he’s been the president of the Southeastern Conference. Now he serves on the board of the (College Football Playoff). He’s a guy that really gets athletics.

"But lastly, the thing I love the most about this position is that every day I show up here early and get to work for the institution that I love, but also there’s these tremendous things growing up out of the ground. There’s these facilities that we’re building, and, just when you think our student-athletes have reached a level where you say, ‘Man, what a great year we’ve had,’ – you look at football and see four or five All-Americans. You look at soccer and not only do we get to an NCAA regional for the first time in the history of the program, but we’re hosting a regional here. You see what we’ve done in tennis. You see what our men’s golf program has done and what our women’s program has done in the past. Every time that you go out and watch women’s basketball at Mississippi State, you just go, ‘My goodness.’ How far have we come there and look at the expectation level that’s on this program with Vic Schaefer. You look at the men’s team and it’s a very similar trajectory as the women really and see what Ben Howland has done.

"There is just so much to be excited about here that it really keeps you enthusiastic about the future. I feel like a kid in the candy store every day I get to be a part of this."

SDN: I said the previous question was last, but one more. You mentioned facilities, is there anything else on the agenda in that regard?

Cohen: "Sure. We want to build an indoor tennis facility. That’s something we need. I think we’re one of only two schools in the league that doesn’t have an indoor tennis facility. That’s a priority for us as well.

"Obviously the baseball facility will come to an end, but one of the things that is a priority for me and our administration is that, even though you build a facility, you can’t just leave it there. You constantly have to enhance it.

"We need to enhance football. There are several improvements we’re thinking about making there including a south end zone project. The basketball arena is extremely important, not only for our fans but for our graduation ceremonies that happen there and all the other events that we host at Humphrey Coliseum."

(Editor's Note: This is the final part of a three-part series revolving around the conversation between Starkville Daily News Mississippi State beat writer Joel Coleman and Mississippi State Athletic Director John Cohen. For the first parts of the series, see Wednesday and Thursday editions of the SDN or visit sports@starkvilledailynews.com)