Polk: “John will do a great job”


I just finished a Q&A with a much calmer Ron Polk than the one I spoke with a few days ago. He says he is still hurt that Tommy Raffo wasn’t hired, but he realizes he should have toned down his remarks.

The following are my questions I had for Polk, who was in his office packing his belongings.

Me: Coach, some say you came off as a spoiled brat who didn’t get his way. How do you respond to that?
Polk: I’m not a spoiled kid. I teach kids to be loyal to their associates and other people all the time. I felt the transition would be smoother with Tommy and he’s been loyal to me and this university. I don’t think I’m a spoiled brat, but I knew when I said the things I did I would take some flack. If someone were to come up to me and say they didn’t like what I said, I would tell them never to question my loyalty.

Me: You got to name your successor once, and that didn’t work out all that well as Pat McMahon left for Florida. Many fans felt betrayed by him leaving.
Polk: Betrayed? I didn’t feel betrayed. Florida is a pretty good job, one of the top jobs in the country. How can you blame Pat for wanting to go to Florida with all the money and resources they have. It’s unlimited. When he took over for me, he went to four regionals and the world series. I’d say he did a pretty good job.

Me: Did you ever promise Tommy Raffo the job at MSU, and do you feel you should have encouraged him to take another job at a smaller school to prepare him better to be a head coach in the SEC?
Polk: Tommy was never promised anything, except my support. Now, yeah, I wished he would have gone somewhere else for a few years. But he loved it here. He loved Pat, and I think he loved me. He loved being a Bulldog and being in the SEC. When he called me and said Greg told him he was going in a different direction, I had tears in my eyes. It hurts to see my assistants packing their bags.

Me: Did you go too far with your remarks?
Polk: I’m loyal to a fault. I was hurt, and I responded by going into a rage and thinking, “What can I do to hurt Greg,” It’s like arguing with an umpire. You’re in a rage, and then it’s over. John and I will talk. Greg and I will talk. Right now, I just need to cool off. John knows I love him, and at least Greg Byrne stayed within the family. John is a good coach. He’ll be different than me and that’s OK. I was just crushed for Tommy and I was hurt. They told me not to react the way I did, but I just couldn’t sit back and say nothing. I had to speak for Tommy.

Me: Can you describe your conversation with John Cohen prior to him taking the job?
Polk: I called and told him I loved him, but I said, “Please, please, please don’t take the job, because my coaches won’t have a job.” He said it was his dream job, and I said it’s Tommy’s dream job too. But he knew by taking the job what was going to happen. Had Tommy gotten the job, I was going to stay around and run the players’ alumni association, camps and oversee the sky suite program. With my own money, I was going to build an office next to his, not attached to his, but next to his. I would help with practice. Not run practice, but help him with what he needed. We talked about this beforehand, and he was agreeable to me staying around the program. Now, I can’t, unless John will ask me to stay.”

Me: Did you put John in a bad situation with your remarks.
Polk: Yes. And that wasn’t my intention. And I told him that. I’m not a mean person and I’m not disloyal to John. John will do a great job, and I’m telling all the players to embrace him.

Me: Do you still want your name removed from the stadium?
Polk: No. That means so much to me. I’ve had former players and current players pound me for that comment.

Me: Are you concerned with your legacy?
Polk: Legacy to me is if we did things right. We recruited quality kids, they graduated, we drew large crowds and we won titles. We did it well and we did it right. Gregg, how many times did you have to call me about a kid in trouble? Not once. They weren’t perfect, but they were never in any major trouble. To me, that’s how I define legacy.

He also said he’s had a lot of calls from schools wanting him to be a volunteer coach. More than likely, he said, he’ll take someone up on that offer.

In today’s newspaper, I had a column on Polk’s words from last week and whether they will tarnish his legacy.


17 Responses to “Polk: “John will do a great job””

  1. theconquistador2 Says:

    And there it is…

    “I was going to build an office next to his, not attached to his, but next to his. I would help with practice. Not run practice, but help him with what he needed. We talked about this beforehand, and he was agreeable to me staying around the program. Now, I can’t, unless John will ask me to stay.”

  2. bigdraws Says:

    Yeah, that’s a little disturbing. All in all though. I have to say that makes me feel a little better.

  3. jcdawgman18 Says:

    I knew he would come around. Bet he ends up staying in Starkville, involved with the baseball program in a non-coaching capacity, raising funds, maybe helping with camps, doing a lot of speaking. I think both Coach Cohen and Greg Byrne are men who are willing to mend the fence when Coach Polk decides he is ready to speak with them about it. Like I have said, while we can go on without him, we would lose a lot of great tradition. Coach Cohen is his own man and will be able to strike a balance with Coach Polk if he does stay around. His story about stealing second base on Saturday is proof enough of that. LOL.

  4. jcdawgman18 Says:

    BTW, great questions, Gregg. Really made him face what he did, and he obviously regrets it now.

  5. theconquistador2 Says:

    I wouldn’t have a problem with Cohen asking Polk to stick around and run the sky suite program and the player’s alumni association, etc. I think it would be a good idea as long as Polk stayed “off the field”.

  6. everydawghashisday Says:

    Almost like he wants Coach Cohen to ask him to stay around it seems… Interesting to see what will happen with that. If he did stay, Im not sure what Coach Cohen would want him to do, obviously not as much as he would have apparently been involved if TR was HC… but Im sure that Cohen does want his support.

  7. thingreenline Says:

    Did anyone else know, besides Polk, that he was gonna build an office?

    And I wouldn’t say all his players were saints. Right before the major skid the team hit a couple seasons ago (#1 at time, only to barely make it to post-season), 3-4 players were questioned about shooting geese from their apartment near some golf course. Heard a couple of them were real dicks, but at least one never got his shotgun back. After that, the season was almost a lame duck (pud intended).

  8. luckydog20 Says:

    Good questions Gregg.

  9. 2thdoc Says:

    Gregg, those were great questions. I think he kinda dodged your last question by talking about the “kids” as his legacy. What a 360 from 2 days ago where he absolutely was not going to talk to Byrne. Now it’s killing him that his legacy might have been boiled down to a grumpy ole man.

    The legacy is what he has built and without that he will be even more lonely. I’ve changed my mind from thinking that Polk went mental for a second to thinking that he just realized he’s been leasing the MSU van and wasn’t ever the owner. Didn’t want to give the keys to Byrne but still likes the way it rides.

  10. chrisfromcorinth Says:

    Coach Polk sounded like a lot of the older people I deal with everyday. He just wants to be wanted somewhere now. It almost like he was hinting to Cohen that he really wants to be asked to do something, now that he got his tantrum out of his system. He realized he had no other choice.

  11. bigdraws Says:

    “What a 360 from 2 days ago where he absolutely was not going to talk to Byrne”

    Nice one 2th!!! I see geometry was not your better subject.

  12. dawgface52 Says:

    A office next to Raffo? Yeah, that would have been a real change for the program. Polk running the show through Raffo. Just proves Byrne used good judgment in hiring a guy ‘outside’ the current program, yet a Miss State guy.

    I hope Polk does fill his time trough volunteer work. Cohen needs to be left alone to do the job he was hired to do.

  13. 2thdoc Says:

    I’m an idiot…and need some sleep.

  14. Braves Dawg Says:

    Stop staying up at night playing your XBox 360.

  15. gddykes Says:

    Funny how Polk goes on and on about LOYALTY and then says he doesn’t blame McMahon for leaving MSU for Florida …

  16. dawgface52 Says:

    gddykes, I thought the same thing. So many inconsistentcies in his thinking. Oh well, I’m putting this to bed as Greg has. Time for a cold beer. 🙂

  17. Polk Pissed!!!!!!!!! - Page 2 - SEC Talk Forums Says:

    […] to me like he has calmed down a little here’s the link. Polk: “John will do a great job” Inside Mississippi State Sports with Gregg Ellis __________________ , […]

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