Andy Cannizaro Resigns At Mississippi State

In a stunning move Tuesday, Andy Cannizaro resigned as Mississippi State’s head coach just a week into the second season of his tenure. While the Bulldogs got off to a disappointing start when they were swept at Southern Mississippi over the weekend, the move was not for on-field performance.

“I had a wonderful opportunity at Mississippi State, but unfortunately I made some poor decisions,” Cannizaro said in a statement. “I hope Mississippi State University and all of the fans and people affected will one day forgive me.”

Pitching coach Gary Henderson was named interim head coach. He spent eight seasons as head coach at Kentucky before coming to Mississippi State following the 2016 season.

Cannizaro’s dismissal brought a swift end to his meteoric rise in coaching. A former big leaguer who spent six years as a scout for the Yankees after his playing career ended, Cannizaro had been an assistant coach for just two seasons when John Cohen hired him away from Louisiana State to succeed him as Mississippi State’s head coach. Cannizaro had a strong debut season as a head coach, guiding the Bulldogs through a rash of injuries to a 40-27 record and an appearance in super regionals.

Cannizaro’s brash, energetic personality seemed to be a perfect fit at Mississippi State. It also played well on the recruiting trail. His first class at Mississippi State ranked in the Top 25 and the Bulldogs’ 2018 class featured four players ranked in the top 65 of the Top 200 Draft Prospects list. Mississippi State had also secured commitments from many talented underclassmen.

Now, however, Cannizaro’s resignation sends shockwaves around the Southeastern Conference. It leaves Mississippi State, which entered the season ranked No. 23 but fell out of the Top 25 following the Opening Weekend sweep, in flux this spring. It starts the 2018 coaching carousel in earnest, as the sport’s most popular parlor game this spring will be speculating about who Cohen will hire next. It could reopen the recruitments of many premier recruits from the 2018 class all the way down to 2021.

Early speculation about a potential hire at Mississippi State will likely center around Auburn coach Butch Thompson and Kentucky coach Nick Mingione, who both served as assistant coaches under Cohen at Mississippi State and have found quick success as head coaches in the SEC. But as the coaching searches at Texas and South Carolina have shown over the last two years, hiring a coach for a high-profile job is rarely simple and straightforward.

Hiring a new head coach will have to wait until after the season, however. For now, the Bulldogs will try to quickly regroup before they travel Wednesday to Jackson State in search of their first win of the season.

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