Let’s go ahead and get the obvious out of the way: Andy Cannizaro’s next job won’t be at LSU.
The former LSU assistant coach was fired with cause as Mississippi State coach on Tuesday morning. The sordid details haven’t yet been reported in full — though they probably will in time — but what’s clear is that Cannizaro’s rapid rise up the SEC coaching ranks is now in a free fall.
Reports of Cannizaro’s ousting began to leak out in Starkville late Monday night and the school confirmed his resignation through a press release on Tuesday morning. Former Kentucky coach Gary Henderson will take over as interim coach three games into a season that began with high hopes.
“I had a wonderful opportunity at Mississippi State, but unfortunately I made some poor decisions,” Cannizaro said via an official statement released by Mississippi State. “I hope Mississippi State University and all of the fans and people affected will one day forgive me.”
Maybe Cannizaro, 39, will one day find the forgiveness that he seeks, and perhaps he’ll even get a chance to get his once-promising coaching career on track at the appropriate time.
But it won’t happen at LSU, and certainly not while Paul Mainieri is the man in charge of the program. It’s more likely he’d burn Alex Box Stadium to the ground than re-hire Cannizaro, to put it bluntly.
Honestly, the notion of him re-joining the staff was ludicrous before he did whatever cost him his job at Mississippi State. But given the amount of speculation on Twitter and various LSU message boards, writing this column became necessary.
Cannizaro served as LSU’s hitting coach and recruiting coordinator for two years before bolting for Starkville in November 2016 when John Cohen, Mainieri’s SEC West nemesis, took over as the school’s athletic director.
Assistants leave for head coaching opportunities, and SEC West powerhouses don’t come calling often, but Cannizaro wasn’t up front with Mainieri. The departure then went from awkward to contentious when Cannizaro poached an LSU commitment Tanner Allen shortly after arriving in Starkville.
That’s not to mention that LSU doesn’t have any openings on its staff. Mainieri has lauded the job that Nolan Cain has done since taking over as recruiting coordinator, and Sean Ochinko recently took over as hitting coach.
Both are former LSU players, and anyone who thinks Mainieri would dump one of his guys to re-hire Cannizaro doesn’t know Mainieri. It’s like when LSU football fans pined for Ed Orgeron to hire Hugh Freeze as his offensive coordinator. Never going to happen.
Here’s what the coach had to say Tuesday when asked in a scrum of reporters for his reaction to Cannizaro’s ouster.
“I actually had no reaction, and it’s really a topic that I’d rather not discuss,” Mainieri said before continuing. “It’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate for Andy. It’s unfortunate for his family. It’s unfortunate for Mississippi State. It’s unfortunate for college baseball. But really, outside of that, I don’t have anything to say about it. I was just as disappointed as everybody else.”
Mainieri has publicly downplayed any “bad blood” between himself and his former assistant in the past. His Tigers also swept five games from Cannizaro’s Bulldogs last season to claim SEC West, SEC and Baton Rouge Super Regional crowns at the expense of their traditional rival.
“We’re going to be coaching against each other, hopefully, for many years to come,” Mainieri said before LSU’s trip to Starkville last May. “This is just the first time and obviously there’s a lot at stake. This isn’t about Andy Cannizaro versus Paul Mainieri. This is about Mississippi State University and Louisiana State University.”
Turns out the first time was actually the next to last, and you’re living in a fantasy land if you think they’re going to be joining forces again anytime soon.