Resigned Kentucky Head Coach Top Choice for Bulldog Pitching Mentor

As soon as the job came open, one name immediately emerged. Now that name is, almost, plugged into the Diamond Dog staff, with an anticipated selection of Gary Henderson as pitching coach.

If correct, Henderson would be reuniting with John Cohen in a team that succeeded in record style at Kentucky from 2004-08. Then Cohen was head coach and Henderson the pitching coach as well as associate head coach.

Mississippi State had no confirmation as of 2:00 Thursday.

Henderson, a 1984 graduate of San Diego State, resigned June 1 after eight years as head coach at Kentucky. He was promoted when Cohen returned to Mississippi State in June 2008. In their last season together the 2008 Wildcats had the SEC’s top pitching staff by ERA, also the second-best rate for any Kentucky season.

They also coached the 2006 Wildcats to share the SEC Championship with Alabama, the program’s first-ever title. This was after the 2005 team finished last in the 12-team league, making what at the time was closest to a true worst-to-first run in conference history. Mississippi State achieved that feat this past year by going from 14th in 2015 to the outright 2016 championship.

Henderson earned SEC Coach of the Year in 2012. Last summer he was the pitching coach for Team USA. And for his total tenure in Lexington, Henderson had thirty of his Wildcat pitchers drafted. As head coach over 40% of all his players got their shot at professional baseball.

He has previously assisted at San Diego State, his alma mater; at Cal State Fullerton and Pepperdine; at Florida; and Oregon State. In 1996 at Florida he was the NCAA assistant coach of the year by Collegiate Baseball.

2016 Diamond Dog pitching coach Wes Johnson was announced as taking the same position at Arkansas yesterday. But Cohen had plenty of advance notice that Johnson, hired only in October, was weighing the opportunity to return to his home state.

That, and Henderson’s resignation first of the month, made a quick transition possible.

And in the strangest twist of all, a third member of that former Kentucky staff has returned to the Wildcats. Bulldog assistant coach Nick Mingione was announced as the new head coach at the program he assisted in 2006-07.

Not surprisingly, it appears Cohen will use that opening to promote Will Coggin from camps coordinator to Mingione’s spot. Coggin, a Diamond Dog himself 2005-06 and student aide 2009-12, returned to campus last year from St. John’s River (Fla.) State College.

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