A few thoughts from Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco here in advance of tonight's Game 1 in the SEC series at Mississippi State.
Bianco and MSU coach John Cohen have coached against one another for a long time, going back to their days at mid-majors in Louisiana, their first jobs.
Bianco was at McNeese State in Lake Charles, and Cohen replaced Dave Van Horn (now at Arkansas) at Northwestern State in Natchitoches.
Before that, they were opposing players, Bianco at LSU and Cohen at Mississippi State.
There's a picture floating around the baseball offices at MSU of Cohen with a home run swing against LSU All-American Ben McDonald, who may be best known for being from my home town, Denham Springs, La., Just kidding of course.
In the picture is LSU catcher Mike Bianco, stretching out a mitt to catch the pitch that never arrived.
“We didn't know each other at all. We just know of each other as opposing players. When we got into coaching, our paths first crossed when he was at Northwestern and I was at McNeese. My first college game, and I think his first college game, was against each other.
“I was there for three years and came here, and a year or two later he went to Florida (as an assistant), and our paths crossed again, then obviously at Kentucky and here.”
Bianco also spent time in the MSU rivalry with Ron Polk as the Bulldogs' head coach.
“Polk was always jovial, a guy was part of the rivalry for a long time, and I think everybody in college baseball misses Ron Polk,” Bianco said.
The Rebels own a 6-3 win over MSU in the Governor's Cup game from earlier this month.
There is some benefit to playing the Bulldogs in a non-conference game but not enough to really predict what will happen this weekend.
“I think so from the scouting end of it, but not so much the pitching. None of us threw any of our weekend starters. We'll see Polorena, they'll see Chavez or Greenwood. But as far as the starters, our guys, Wahl, Mayers and Hively, their guys like Stratton, you don't see those guys.”
The benefit is in seeing the lineup.
“Their lineup is fresh in our heads, just like I'm sure ours is with them.”