Super Bulldog Weekend is officially upon us, although it began last night, I suppose, with Movie Night at Scott Field. I could’ve watched (and heard) Sherlock Holmes from the Bryan Building parking lot if I’d so pleased. So, if you haven’t yet, check out my checklist for the weekend.
There is plenty else to read about today, but first a bit of news. MSU basketball assistant coach Phil Cunningham has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Gardner-Webb head coach’s job after interviewing for it a few days ago, said an MSU team spokesman. Now, to today’s reads.
• COHEN, POLK & RAFFO: I had a lengthy story in today’s Daily Journal on John Cohen, Ron Polk and the current state of MSU’s baseball program. Cohen has taken on full responsibility for where things are, saying, “The second you take over a program, you take over every part of it. It’s no longer Ron Polk’s responsibility; it’s my responsibility. I don’t hold anybody responsible.”
Polk did not leave behind a ton of talent, but he doesn’t believe he left the place in bad shape. “My gosh, we were in the World Series the year before,” he said with a laugh, referring to 2007, his penultimate year at MSU. Just a point worth making: During Polk’s second run at State (2002-08), the Bulldogs went 93-111 in SEC play, including a 15-13 mark in 2007. Polk had just two 40-win seasons in that time; Pat McMahon had three in the four years he coached prior to Polk’s return.
As for this season, Polk holds out hope the Bulldogs (17-16, 3-9 SEC), who host Tennessee this weekend, can make the SEC Tournament after missing it the past two seasons.
“If they can win three against Tennessee, and then go to Alabama – because they’re struggling right now – and win three there, and all of a sudden John says, ‘Hey, I’m not embarrassed any more.'”
Also, I had an update on Tommy Raffo, the former Polk assistant who was passed over as his successor and now leads Arkansas State’s program.
• STANSBURY PAYS: Back to hoops, Cunningham’s boss, Rick Stansbury, was fined $30,000 yesterday for his criticism of officials following the SEC Tournament championship game last month. Took ’em long enough to hand that down. (Can you say PR damage control?)
It should be clarified that the fine was indeed the largest ever levied against an SEC basketball coach – because it was also the first one. To draw a comparison, Lakers coach Phil Jackson was fined $35,000 by the NBA last week for criticizing officials. But unlike Stansbury, Jackson’s words weren’t necessarily meant for the officials.
• FOOTBAWL! MSU’s football team had its final full-pads practice yesterday. Today will be more of a walk-through, then tomorrow is the annual Maroon-White spring game at Davis Wade Stadium. Admission’s free, and coach Dan Mullen