By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
When Mississippi State opens its final SEC baseball road series of the season on Friday, coach John Cohen won’t be there.
The SEC announced Wednesday that Cohen is suspended for the opener at No. 6 Florida, citing a violation of league sportsmanship rules for his actions following Sunday’s game at Alabama, when he was issued a postgame ejection.
By NCAA rule, Cohen had to serve a one-game suspension, which he did Tuesday when MSU played Mississippi Valley State. Cohen said it was the first postgame ejection of his 15-year head coaching career.
He spoke with SEC commissioner Mike Slive on Wednesday but did not reveal the specifics of that conversation.
“I have tremendous respect for the commissioner, and I’m going to follow his ruling,” Cohen said.
MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin declined to comment on the matter.
The No. 25-ranked Bulldogs (30-18, 12-12 SEC) enter the series at Florida (36-13, 14-10) tied for second in the Western Division. Besides being suspended for the first game, Cohen is not allowed to work with his team during Thursday’s practice.
“Without me in the dugout they’re still going to perform and compete their tails off just like they did Sunday at Alabama,” Cohen said. “I love the kids we have in our dugout, and they’re going to be ready to play.”
On Sunday, MSU rallied from four runs down before losing, 8-7. During the ninth inning, Cohen took issue with a foul ball call, coming out to argue with home plate umpire Steve Dew.
After the game, Cohen continued yelling at Dew as the umpiring crew exited the field.
The coach said he’ll use his extra time well, especially on the recruiting front.
Pitching coach Butch Thompson will serve as head coach Friday. Thompson was involved in a verbal altercation with a security guard after Sunday’s game, and the SEC said earlier this week it was reviewing the incident.
A league spokesman said Wednesday that the matter will now be handled internally by MSU.