Polk coming back home
RETURNING TO MSU n Baseball coach Ron Polk speaks on the phone in the press box at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., Monday. Polk, who led the Georgia Bulldogs this season to their first College World Series since 1990, told Georgia officials Monday he will return to Mississippi State. AP photo
The Associated Press
June 19, 2001
JACKSON (AP) Mississippi State will welcome back an old friend on Tuesday. The Bulldogs hope Ron Polk will stay a while.
Polk, who led Georgia to its first College World Series since 1990 this season, told Georgia officials Monday he was returning to Mississippi State, where he coached for more than two decades.
He (Polk) said that he would be coming back to Starkville to retire and we hope that eventually this will be his retirement place,'' said Joe Dier, athletic department spokesman. But before we get to that point, we hope that it will be another workplace for him for years to come.''
Polk was to be introduced as Mississippi State's new coach today at an 11 a.m. news conference on the Starkville campus.
He replaces Pat McMahon, one of his former assistants, who left Mississippi State last week to take over the Florida program.
He is going to be putting on that maroon and white,'' Dier said.
Polk, 57, had two years remaining on a four-year contract with Georgia worth about $84,200 a year. He coached at Mississippi State from 1976 to 1997, compiling a 888-422 record and reaching the World Series five times.
Polk said he signed a four-year deal with Mississippi State.
Little did I know four days ago that this would happen,'' Polk told The Associated Press from his office in Athens, Ga. It's just a surprise and a shock. I'm very honored they'd want me to come back, but it's made my last few days kind of tough.''
Mississippi State athletics director Larry Templeton said there was no doubt Polk topped the list of candidates. Templeton admits he was worried Polk might not make the move.
There was some concern as to whether Ron would have an interest in coming back. Those that know Ron Polk know that his commitment is strong,'' Templeton said.
I think the biggest thing he had to overcome was the commitment that he had made to the players at the University of Georgia. Once we saw that he was ready to come back…it was an easy decision,'' he said.
This year, Polk became just the second coach in NCAA history to take three schools to the CWS. He also took Georgia Southern to Omaha in 1973.
Polk's two-year record with Georgia was 79-48. This season, Georgia won the SEC championship for the first time since 1954.
Polk retired from Mississippi State after the 1997 season. He was lured back into coaching with the chance to rebuild Georgia's program.
Georgia had endured seven straight losing seasons in the SEC, going through two coaches in the process.
In Polk's first year, Georgia won 32 games the most since 1992 and barely missed the .500 mark (14-15) in league play.
He is not only one of the great college coaches of all time, he is a wonderful person and we have been fortunate to have him even briefly as part of our Georgia Bulldog family,'' said Vince Dooley, athletics director at Georgia.
Georgia made a generous'' offer to keep him, said Polk, who visited Starkville last week to discuss the job, prompting calls from fans of both schools pleading with him to either stay or go.
I think Mississippi State fans will be excited,'' Templeton said.