Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cohen's back in Louisiana

John Cohen's back in Baton Rouge starting Friday.

The former Northwestern State head baseball coach leads his Kentucky Wildcats into Alex Box Stadium for a three-game series against LSU. And for the first time since he took over in 2004, the Wildcats are the favorites.

Kentucky, in a sense, is what LSU was -- granted without the five national titles. The Wildcats are the defending SEC champions and have an offensive attack reminiscient of the "Gorilla Ball" Tigers.

Much of that, Cohen will tell you, stems from athletic director Mitch Barnhart. Cohen told me in an interview earlier this year, Barnhart cares about Kentucky athletics as a whole. That means more than just Big Blue basketball.

How long Cohen stays at Kentucky is uncertain. He has turned around one of the SEC's most dormant teams in less than four years and made it into a regional host. He has ties to two other SEC schools (Florida, Mississippi State) and was born in another (Tuscaloosa, Ala.). And he's part of a growing coaching tree down the road in Natchitoches at Northwestern State.

What is certain is Cohen's star is rising and so is his team's profile.


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