(Photo: Nick Mingione) Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Second Cohen Aide to Take Over Wildcat Program

Within minutes of the post-draft evaluation story’s posting, which included coaching carousel talk, news broke. Kentucky did not just talk to a Mississippi State assistant.

Nick Mingione has been hired.

Per reports out of Lexington by Chris Jung of Kentucky New Era, the eight-year assistant at Mississippi State will become head coach of the Wildcat program. Mingione’s name surfaced during the Starkville super regional as a target for Kentucky, where he served as an assistant in 2006-07.

Mingione will ironically replace one of his fellow staff-mates. Gary Henderson, who succeeded John Cohen when the latter returned to his alma mater in June 2008, abruptly resigned a week ago after eight seasons in charge. Henderson and Mingione had served under Cohen together for a couple of seasons in Lexington.

This will be Mingione’s first head coaching position at any level. The Cape Coral, Fla., native was an assistant for one year in high school, another in junior college, and moved to the senior college coaching ranks in 2003 at Emory-Riddle before joining Cohen’s crew in Kentucky.

Mingione also worked one year at Western Carolina before re-uniting with Cohen at Mississippi State as camps coordinator. Since then he has worked in all aspects of the program but has made his name as an aggressive and productive recruiter.

Mississippi State’s season ended Saturday evening in the Starkville super regional, after the 2016 Bulldogs won the SEC Championship.

“It’s been a privilege to watch Nick develop as a person and a coach for a decade,” Cohen said in a provided stamen. “He’s a tireless recruiter who values relationships, and he’s done an outstanding job developing our players. We’re grateful for what he has helped us accomplish at Mississippi State, including a national runner-up finish at the 2013 College World Series and the 2016 Southeastern Conference championship. I’ve always thought he would make a terrific head coach. Just like our former pitching coach Butch Thompson, I am glad Nick is getting an opportunity to become a head coach in the SEC.”

This may not be the only carousel stop in Starkville, either. As also noted in the previous story, pitching coach Wes Johnson is a candidate for the same post at Arkansas now. He is a native of Sherwood, Ark., who played at Arkansas-Monticello.

Johnson is an obvious target for a Razorback program looking to rebound from missing the SEC Tournament and NCAA play for the first time under Coach Dave Van Horn.

With Mingione replacing Henderson, there are two former Cohen assistants at State who now run SEC rivals. He joins former pitching coach Butch Thompson who just finished his first year in charge at Auburn. He is also the third member of Cohen's first MSU coaching staff to become a head coach. Lane Burroughs (2009-12) left to take over Northwestern Louisiana.

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