Auburn nearing deal to hire Mississippi State’s John Cohen as next athletic director, per reports


Auburn is closing in on a deal to hire Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen to the same position, according to multiple reports. Cohen, who began his tenure as Mississippi State AD in 2016, would replace Allen Greene, who left the job on Aug. 31 just before a tumultuous football season began for the Tigers. 

With Auburn at 3-5 (1-4 SEC) under second-year coach Bryan Harsin following a 41-27 home loss to Arkansas on Saturday, Cohen would be stepping into the job as uneasiness surrounds the Tigers football program. But as a veteran of the SEC and multiple high-profile coaching searches, it should be a familiar environment for Cohen. 

Cohen would become the latest athletic director to jump between SEC West schools. In 2019, LSU athletic director Scott Woodward left Texas A&M for LSU before Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork replaced Woodward at A&M. 

Following Dan Mullen’s departure for Florida in late 2017, Cohen tabbed Joe Moorhead, then Penn State’s offensive coordinator, as the Bulldogs’ new coach. Moorhead was fired after just two seasons and replaced by Mike Leach, who was then the coach at Washington State. Leach is (16-16, 9-14 SEC) in his third season with the Bulldogs.

Cohen also hired first-year Mississippi State basketball coach Chris Jans from New Mexico State. In 2019, he hired baseball coach Chris Lemonis, who led the Bulldogs to a national championship in 2021.

Though his history as a player, coach and administrator at Mississippi State makes the cross-division something of a surprise, Cohen is originally from Alabama and began his college baseball career at Birmingham-Southern. After one year, he played baseball at Mississippi State for legendary coach Ron Polk and got into coaching shortly after his college playing career ended. 

Cohen was coach at Kentucky for five seasons before taking over at Mississippi State in 2009 after Polk’s retirement. He coached the Bulldogs until 2016 before transitioning to the athletic director role.


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