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Andy Cannizaro Introduced As MSU Head Baseball Coach

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STARKVILLE, Miss. – Andy Cannizaro was officially introduced as Mississippi State's new head baseball coach during a press conference Monday afternoon. Cannizaro replaces John Cohen, who was named MSU's 17th Director of Athletics on Friday.

On Saturday, Cannizaro was named Cohen's successor, as the former Major Leaguer, pro scout and Southeastern Conference assistant coach comes to MSU with a lifetime of baseball experience and high praise at all ranks of baseball from around the country.

Cannizaro will coach his second fall scrimmage as the Diamond Dawg skipper on Wednesday, with the time still to be determined and will be announced on social media when it is decided.

Below are quotes from Cannizaro's press conference:

Head Coach Andy Cannizaro

Opening statement…

"Hail State. First and foremost, I just want to talk about how honored, how privileged and humbled I am to become the new head baseball coach at Mississippi State University. We are talking about one of the most tradition-based baseball programs in all of America, whether we are talking about amateur baseball or professional baseball. Mississippi State baseball is a national brand. It is a program that is recognized coast-to-coast by Major League Baseball all the way down to the travel baseball world. I am extremely honored to be the baseball coach here. We have a tremendous group of players, a lot of which were part of the SEC championship team from a year ago. The entire team is in the back of the room today, and I want to thank you all for being here. I am looking forward to being your coach and leading you guys into the future and having an amazing baseball season. Thank you guys for being here. I'd also like to thank the amazing turnout we have here today. It continues to show how high of an interest level everyone has in Mississippi State baseball. I look forward to seeing you at Dudy Noble this spring. We can't wait to get after it with you guys in the stands. There are several people that I would like to thank that are here today and that have had a major role in my upbringing, in my young 20s and now into my late-30s and have basically impacted my entire life. The first person I would like to thank for being here is my amazing wife Allison. I met her at Tulane University back in 1999 and here we are in 2016, and I absolutely hit the jackpot. She's the best and smartest person I have ever met in my life. She is an 11-year practicing attorney that graduated in the top-three percent of her law school. She is the most incredible wife one could ever have. My mom and dad, Gary and Susan Cannizaro—just all the years of coaching me and sitting the stands and watching me play all over the country. She has had three sons play the game, and I promise you she did not know what she was signing up for when she met my dad. Gabrielle and Pierce—my wonderful little girl and my phenomenal little boy—are two of the greatest miracles I could have ever asked for. Gabrielle is smart like her mom and Pierce is a left-handed-hitting shortstop who doesn't swing and miss. (Cohen) had mentioned Rick Jones and Jim Schlossnagle. I want to thank those guys for the opportunity to attend Tulane University. It was the school I had dreamed about playing for growing up. My dad was an assistant coach there and I was a bat-boy there when I was five years old. It was a dream come true to play there. I want to thank those guys for shaping my college career and getting me to the level I could to get into professional baseball. Once I got into professional baseball, I was extremely fortunate enough to play for so many great minor league managers and coaches along the way. The two that I would like to recognize, thank and mention today are Joe Torre and Joe Maddon. We are talking about a hall-of-fame manager in Joe Torre and probably the best manager in baseball today in Joe Maddon. Being around those guys in my mid-20s allowed me to see the type of leader that I wanted to be, knowing that when my baseball career finished, I wanted to get into coaching. I wanted to stay in baseball. Seeing how those guys handled superstar players—Joe Torre, managing teammates of mine like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Bernie Williams and Mariano Rivera. Being around those guys every day with the Yankees showed me how you have to carry yourself as a professional to be great at the game. Several years later, with the Tampa Bay Rays and that young team that ultimately played in the World Series later that October. I had two managers—one that managed a veteran-laden team, and the other that managed a young, energetic group that got to the World Series. Every day that I was around those guys, I was able to take away things that I wanted to bring with me when I entered the coaching world. After my playing career ended, I was extremely fortunate to go into the scouting world and take an amazing job opportunity with the Yankees, where I was able to work for five years under the scouting director and one of the vice presidents of the New York Yankees, Damon Oppenheimer. Damon was an incredible role model and taught me so many great things about player and talent evaluation that I continue to use to this day. Trying to soak up as much as I could from him was something that I knew would benefit me for the rest of my life. Several other mentors include Jim Hendry, former general manager of the Chicago Cubs, who is an amazing baseball man with so much knowledge that I was continuously picking his brain, and I consider him a great friend to this day. Other mentors in professional baseball include Brian Cashman, the general manager of the New York Yankees. I have had an incredible opportunity to learn from so many great baseball people that have truly shaped my life over the years. Everything that I learned in the player and talent evaluation part of baseball I took with me to LSU. I was able to spend the last 2 1/2 years at LSU, leading the recruiting part of it and using all of the things I have learned over the years. I absolutely loved my job with the New York Yankees, but I knew I had this drive to be able to get on the field and coach, teach and help young baseball players maximize their abilities on the field. The last 2 ½ years coaching at LSU were some of the best times of my life. The relationships I built with those players are ones I will remember for the rest of my life. I look at all those guys and they've had some of the biggest impact on my career. Outside of playing in the big leagues, those guys have taught me things I remember to this day. I will love those kids for the rest of my life. While coaching at LSU, I was able to work for a hall of fame head coach in Paul Mainieri. Paul Mainieri was an amazing man to work for every day. His knowledge of the game and his understanding of what it takes to run a program was simply incredible. He had his pulse on everything that happened within the program. Every day that I went to work with Paul Mainieri, I went with my eyes and ears open. Being around Paul truly prepared me to be the next baseball coach at MSU. I am blown away, that at 37 years old, I was selected to be the head baseball coach at MSU. My family is extremely honored to be the newest members of the Mississippi State baseball family. I want to thank Dr. Keenum and John Cohen for giving me this opportunity to lead this program. John Cohen has done an incredible job at his alma mater. You don't replace a head coach like John Cohen—you continue to build on all the great things he has done for this program. Just a few short years ago, this program competed for the national championship. What I want to do is to continue to work, grind and coach as hard as I can with our staff to help our players achieve our goal. Our goal here at MSU is to win the national championship. There is only one way to make that happen. We talked about that with our players in our first team meeting with our players on Friday. We are going to do everything in our power to bring that first national championship back to Starkville and to Mississippi State University. We have so many pieces on our team this year to continue to build on the SEC Championship from a year ago. We have returning All-Americans and returning draft picks that came back to finish their degree. I am so fired up to be a part of what you guys have built here. We are going to continue to do it. There is a massive scoreboard going up and I told our guys that every time that scoreboard is on, we are going to light it up. We are going to play an extremely entertaining brand of baseball for the best fans in college baseball. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be a part of this Mississippi State baseball family. I look forward to building upon all of the amazing things you guys have built. We are going to win that first national championship and we are going to have a blast playing baseball."

On becoming a head coach so early…

"I always had goals and aspirations to be able to be a Division 1 head baseball coach at the highest level. The SEC is the biggest, baddest league on the planet. I am speechless. The fans are amazing, the players play hard, and it was a dream of mine to coach somewhere with so much tradition. Now that it is a reality, I am the most excited man on the whole planet."

On attacking the final week of fall practice…

"We have nine practice dates left. We are going to try to play (scrimmages) as much as possible so I can continue to evaluate our players. Gary Henderson is one of the very best pitching coaches in the country. When this opportunity came to fruition, knowing that Gary was on our staff gave me a huge sigh of relief. Gary is going to be a phenomenal pitching coach here and he will have our guys ready to pitch."

On relying on the guidance of John Cohen…

"I couldn't pick a better boss to work for, in terms of an athletic director that knows what it takes to win at the highest level. There is not a doubt in my mind that John wants to do everything possible to bring that first national championship back to Mississippi State and I know that he will be able to provide the resources necessary for us to obtain those goals. I am certainly going to lean on (Cohen). He was one of the best head coaches in the SEC for the last 15 years. There are a lot of questions I am going to have as a new head coach and I am thankful that one of the best in the league is right across the road."

On how the first team meeting went…

"It was awesome. Just having the opportunity to look at an entire team that I was the head coach of was amazing. I am going to try to be a high-energy guy. I want to coach and teach with passion. I want our guys to represent this university at the highest level in the most first-class manner. The biggest message I had out of that meeting was that we are going to play hard, play fast, play with energy and we are going to have a blast playing baseball."

On his relationship with John Cohen…

"As a scout, I spent so much time here in Starkville and in this amazing state. I've had many conversations over the years with John Cohen about (a number of players that are now in the Major Leagues). That relationship started there and continued in a different direction the last two years when we were competing in opposite dugouts. I had the utmost respect for him and what he has done with this program. I had always admired everything he had done previously at Kentucky and now at Mississippi State. Those are the things that really impressed me with John and certainly made me want to get to know him and pick his brain as much as possible."

On the upcoming signing day…

"Will Coggin has been important as our recruiting coordinator in getting our staff and me in touch with all of the kids and reassuring them of how fired up I am to be the head coach here at Mississippi State. Anytime you have some coaching turnover, there is going to be some uncertainty in young kids' and parents' minds in terms of a particular staff that they had committed to. We have had an amazing response from players and kids that fell in love with MSU and are dying to play here in this program."

On his recruiting approach…

"I am a big believer of trying to identify the tools—hit, power, field, run, throw. I (believe in) identifying premium athletes that can play a variety of positions on the field. Our goal is going to be to recruit student-athletes that are serious about earning their degree at Mississippi State, who are serious about giving an extreme effort every time they touch the field. One thing I have relied on heavily the last couple of years is my relationship with the professional scouts. The scouting community sees everybody from coast-to-coast. I want those guys to know that they are a major part of our baseball program here at MSU. All of our guys said that they want to play in the big leagues. We are going to give (scouts) the opportunity to evaluate our players as much as they need to allow our players' dreams to come true."

On what he wants to see from a facilities aspect…

"I know there's a massive new baseball stadium project that's under development right now. Dudy Noble Field is as historic of a stadium that you will find in the country. The Left Field Lounge is an amazing home field advantage. The new stadium is going to be incredible. It is going to be the finest facility in all of college baseball. I know that (Cohen), as the athletics director will do everything in his power to create that home field advantage that we have always had here. There are so many awesome things that are in the works that are going to keep that home field advantage and make this an extremely tough place to play."

On the last 72 hours…

"'Whirlwind' would be an understatement. Friday morning, we had a meeting in Baton Rouge with all of our players letting them know what was going on. That was one of the hardest meetings I have ever had in my life. I love those kids so much and they gave us everything they had. Later that night, becoming the head baseball coach at MSU, and addressing an entirely new group of players is something that I am still trying to wrap my head around. This has been one of the craziest 72 hours of my life, but one of the best 72 hours of my life. At some point, it will slow down. Until then, we are going to take it one step at a time. If you just concentrate on one thing at a time, you nail it and then move on to the next piece. Ultimately, these players are going to give their very best every day. We have nine practices left and they will have a ton of energy that will culminate with a World Series at the end. I would love to see as many fans as possible at our series. Let's create an awesome atmosphere to play baseball in."

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