McNickle resigns at MCC
MAKING THE CALL n Russ McNickle made the call on Monday to resign as head baseball coach at Meridian Community College. McNickle will join Ron Polk's staff at Mississippi State as an assistant. Photo by Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
July 3, 2001
Three-weeks ago Mississippi State persuaded legendary coach Ron Polk to return to Starkville and take over a baseball dynasty that he built. On Monday the Bulldogs snagged another former coach in Meridian Community College's Russ McNickle.
McNickle resigned from his MCC post early on Monday to accept a position on MSU's staff as an assistant. McNickle was a graduate assistant under Polk from 1988-90 at MSU, and jumped at the chance to work with him again.
"I am extremely happy about the opportunity of being able to work with coach Polk again," McNickle said in between phone calls with his players at MCC on Monday.
This marks the second consecutive year that MCC is left scrambling for a baseball coach in the off-season. Scott Berry left MCC to take over as an assistant to another former MCC coach, Corky Palmer, at the University of Southern Mississippi last July.
McNickle was hired in late August to replace Berry and guided the Eagles to a 37-18 record this past year.
"I hate to leave these (MCC) players after only one year but it's hard to say no to one of the best coaches ever," McNickle said. "(Polk) is to college baseball what Bear Bryant was to college football. I feel like (MSU) is on the verge of a national championship and I'm excited about being a part of that."
Rumors have been buzzing across the area for the last month about the possibility of McNickle leaving. That speculation started after Pat McMahon left MSU for the University of Florida, and after MCC re-joined the Mississippi Athletic Association of Junior Colleges.
McNickle said that the schools decision to re-enter the MAAJC made him look a little closer at his options, but wasn't the main reason for his leaving MCC.
"That might have been a factor at looking at other jobs, but that wasn't the sole issue," McNickle said. "My family and I are putting our faith in the Lord and seeing what he's got in store for us. There's a great group of guys coming back here (MCC), and that's hard to leave. My wife and I never imagined when we moved here from Florida that we'd be moving 90 miles north after only 11 months."
MCC's returning third-basemen, Tyler Scarborough, said that he was sad to see McNickle go but realized it was the right thing for him to do.
"I hate to see him go but I'm also happy for him," said the sophomore All-American. "He'd be stupid not to take that chance. I've talked to a few of the other players and they are all happy for him too. We gotta start from scratch just like we did last year but hopefully it will work out."
MCC president, Dr. Scott Elliott, said that he felt both saddened and happy about McNickle's resignation.
"We received the news of Coach McNickle's resignation with mixed emotions," Dr. Elliott said. "On the one hand, we are saddened to be losing a superlative coach, and, far more important, a fine Christian gentleman as part of the MCC family. On the other hand, we are happy for Russ and that he's earned this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work full-time on the staff of one of the premier coaches in the history of NCAA Division I baseball.
"I have absolutely no doubt that Russ is on the fast track to becoming a NCAA Division I head baseball coach. I didn't expect to keep him forever at MCC, but we had hoped to keep him for more than one year. I am appreciative of the outstanding job that he did for the year he was here, winning a Miss Lou conference championship and having a very positive, Christian influence on the lives of his players."
MCC will now begin looking at several options regarding possible replacements, according to Dr. Elliott.
"We will be looking at our options, both internal and external," Dr. Elliott said. "My interest is in identifying an individual who will be successful in maintaining the quality of the program."
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star., call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228 or E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.