John Cohen

John Cohen

John Cohen

By Hannah Bateman

In 1987, a young man from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, came to play baseball at Mississippi State University despite his family’s connection to the University of Alabama. Over his three years at MSU, this young man created a legacy that would last for years to come.

John Cohen started his college baseball player career in 1986 at Birmingham-Southern College before transferring to MSU the next year. During his time at MSU, he helped set many records, including 148 wins and earning the First-Team All-SEC award as a senior. He graduated from MSU in 1990 with his bachelor’s degree in English.

In 2008, Cohen returned to Starkville, Mississippi, when he was hired as head baseball coach at MSU. He states that his greatest success was being able to coach the team, who in the 2016 season won the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship for the first time since 1989 when Cohen played on the team himself. In the fall of 2016, Cohen was named Mississippi State University's 17th director of athletics.

Cohen’s career in coaching baseball earned him the Southland Conference Coach of the Year for 1998 and 2001 and the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year for 2006 and 2013. He also served on the Team USA coaching staff in 2005. He was also one of six active coaches who have coached and played for their alma mater in the NCAA College World Series.

When Cohen reflects back on his time as a student at MSU, he says that “it was an incredible experience and [he] remember[s] many of the professors vividly.” His favorite faculty member at MSU was Dr. Clyde Williams, and his favorite class at MSU was Early 20th Century American Literature. “So many of those literature classes forced us to think critically,” states Cohen. Cohen continued his education after graduating from MSU, and he earned his master’s degree in sports management at the University of Missouri in 1994.

While at MSU, Cohen learned a lot from his greatest mentors: Mississippi State assistant and head baseball coach, Pat McMahon, and MSU alumnus and super agent, Bo McKinnis.

Cohen states that his favorite MSU tradition is the cowbell. “It is just so unique in college athletics,” Cohen said. He shares his love for cowbells with his father, a professor at the University of Alabama, even though it was tough at first to gain his father’s approval.

“My father, a long time professor of law at the University of Alabama, was hesitant at first about MSU. Over time, his passion for Mississippi State grew to such a level that his office became a home for many cowbells. True story,” states Cohen. 

When offering advice to current students, Cohen advises, “don’t take your time at Mississippi State for granted and take full advantage of everything MSU has to offer.”

Cohen enjoys spending time with his family and takes great interest in Mississippi State Athletics, the Starkville community, and the state of Mississippi.

Photo courtesy of MSU Athletic Media Relations