Mississippi State University gave the public only 208 words on the “resignation” of former baseball head coach Andy Cannizaro.
Resignation is in quotes because it was reported on Monday he would be fired with cause, so do not tell me he was not given an option to leave with grace or be fired.
But back on topic, there are two major storylines at play here, one is that MSU lost someone I proclaimed would win a national title in a column last summer. Secondly, John Cohen should be commended for showing leadership and pushing Cannizaro out, but he and MSU as a whole should be criticized for their complete lack of transparency about the situation.
MSU is a public institution, primarily funded by public money. For all intents and purposes, they fired a major public employee, who said in their 208-word press release he had “made some poor decisions.” This combined with the reports of the university investigating him for infidelity and the ESPN report that he had an "extramarital affair with an employee in the athletic department." One can put two and two together on what happened.
Just to try and illustrate how little the university is giving on the situation, I am passing 208 words with this word.
The above is the length MSU gave the public on not only the resignation of a major university employee, but also what they are looking for in a replacement and what happened. It just makes things seem very suspicious. At worst, Cohen should have held a presser, given a statement, taken questions to the media and if someone asked something he could not answer, just simply say "No comment."
This is not an issue of media entitlement or owing anything to the media, but an issue of transparency and helping to clear up all the questions and rumors flying around. The assumption now is there is a lot more to the situation, which there very well may be, but instead MSU is completely ignoring the issue for the most part. The university sent out their “Cohen’s Corner” update, a weekly update of what is happening across the whole athletic department, you can guess what obvious thing was omitted.
Overall, the complete lack of clarity is just making the situation much worse. The worst part about it all is that the university is leaving interim head coach Gary Henderson out to dry. Henderson, not Cohen, was the first to meet with the media after MSU’s 12-1 win over Jackson State last night.
So instead of Cohen, the leader of the athletic department taking questions about everything going on, it was left to Henderson, the former pitching coach who is stepping in to take over. I do not think I need to explain why this reflects so poorly on the administration.
Now while I do criticize the decision, I cannot commend Cohen enough for making the morally correct decision to push out someone he hand-picked to replace himself. Cohen moved up from baseball coach to athletic director in November of 2016. He lined up Cannizaro to replace him and called his replacement an upgrade.
He was the biggest fan of coach Cannizaro. But when presented with the situation, he made the decision a leader should, and I commend him for this part.
To be fair, he may have been right. I earnestly believed up until the reports came out Monday night, Cannizaro would lead MSU to a national title in baseball. He took a rag-tag group with half a pitching staff to the Super Regionals. He recruited top five classes. He was about to have the best baseball stadium in college baseball. He had the coaching skill, the administration's full support, the fans' full support and had this program on an upward trajectory.
He then threw it all away, and MSU lost a great coach because of it.
Bulldog baseball will be fine regardless, this is one of the top 10, if not top five college baseball jobs in the country because it has the most loyal fan base in college baseball. Not to mention the new stadium, a rich tradition and history and full university support, this is in the best conference in college baseball.
MSU will not collapse because of this, like Arkansas football did when the Bobby Petrino fiasco happened. Cohen will show everyone why he is considered one of the best athletic directors in the conference and will make an informed decision on who he will hire. Bulldogs baseball will be back to winning games and back on their upward trajectory soon enough.