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Cohen, Moorhead open busy week on Road Dawgs Tour


Joe Moorhead

Joe Moorhead


Brett Hudson



STARKVILLE -- John Cohen didn't want to drag on. He knew, even as Mississippi State's Director of Athletics, he was not the star of this show; the man in the corner of the room, new football coach Joe Moorhead, is. That being the case, all he wanted to do was list off a few of the athletic department's recent accomplishments and be on his way. 


Cohen held the floor for seven minutes. 


That is how the MoorDawgs Tour continued Monday morning in the Leo W. Seal Jr. Football Complex, where Cohen and Moorhead spoke to a group of fans that purchased tickets. They started the tour last week with stops in Vicksburg and Cleveland before a trio of Monday stops: Starkville in the morning, Tupelo at lunch and Memphis in the evening. The tour will wrap up this week with Meridian and Biloxi on Tuesday; Houston, Texas, on Wednesday; and Huntsville, Alabama, and Atlanta on Thursday. 


Cohen started with the academic pursuits of the department's student-athletes, announcing its athletes had a cumulative 3.15 grade point average in the fall and a 3.01 in the spring for a 3.08 on the year. He pointed out it as an addition to the department's obvious in-game successes. 


"I could spend the next two hours talking about women's basketball," Cohen said. "You all know that our coach, Vic Schaefer, was a Naismith Award winner, you know our basketball coach was the SEC Coach of the Year, you know our basketball team went 32-0 to start our season, you know our basketball team has played for a national championship two years in a row, but what you don't know is our women's basketball team has a 3.44 grade point average this semester." 


For the in-play success, Cohen pointed out the plethora of teams that have made postseason play this academic year -- football, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's basketball, softball, men's golf and women's cross country -- with hopes that two more join them, baseball and track and field. Baseball needs some some wins in its upcoming series against No. 1 Florida and the ensuing Southeastern Conference Tournament to ensure its tournament fate, while the track and field team is more secure in its standing. 


"We've become Javelin University," Cohen said. 


He also outlined some of the improvements on the way in athletic facilities. In addition to the renovation of Dudy Noble Field and the locker room at Davis Wade Stadium, Cohen said the entry way to the Templeton Athletic Academic Center is currently, "gutted," as a new entrance with a pictorial history of MSU athletics is being installed. He also said the soccer stadium is getting a video board and hopes to do the same for volleyball. 


Finally, Moorhead took the microphone. 


Moorhead described how he divided the timeline from his accepting the job to the beginning of his first season with the team currently taking on Phase 3: summer. The coaching staff is allowed very limited time with the players, primarily used for film study, leaving players to work either by themselves or with the strength and conditioning staff. Moorhead's hope is that the players use the summer as an extension of the team's conditioning program and to develop individual skills. 


Phase 1 was the winter conditioning program led by strength and conditioning coach Anthony Piroli, who Moorhead finally got on his second try: he said he tried to hire Piroli to the same position when he took over at Fordham, but Piroli instead took a position with the Arizona Cardinals. 


Phase 2 was spring practice and Phase 4 is preseason practice, when MSU practices 29 times before opening Phase 5, the regular season, against Stephen F. Austin. MSU will report for preseason camp on August 2 and begin practice the next day. 


"We want to come out of that with a great feeling that we have a depth chart established, offensively, defensively and in special teams," Moorhead said of preseason practice. 




Making a hire 


In a small media session before the event, Moorhead addressed the newest need in his program: a recruiting staffer. 


Last week, FootballScoop reported the departure of  


"It's going. We have a ton of interest, we're piecing through some things to see who the best fit is," Moorhead said. "To quote John Wooden, we're going to be quick but not hurry and find the best person." 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson



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