Auburn hired Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen to the same position, the university announced Monday. Cohen, who began his tenure as Mississippi State AD in 2016, recplaces Allen Greene, who left the job on Aug. 31 just before a tumultuous football season began for the Tigers.
"John has a wealth of experience in college athletics, particularly in the Southeastern Conference and his resume and references are impeccable," said university president Chris Roberts in a statement. "His leadership and success as a head coach and an athletic director speak for themselves. John will embrace Auburn and be a tremendous leader for our athletics program as we move forward."
Earlier Monday, Auburn fired second-year coach Bryan Harsin, ending a short but tumultuous tenure on The Plains. As such, Cohen steps 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 becomes 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.
"I'm extremely grateful to President Roberts for the opportunity to be the next director of athletics at Auburn University," Cohen said. "Auburn is an incredibly special place as is demonstrated by the hall of fame coaches and athletes that have been a part of its storied history. I understand the traditions and values at Auburn and look forward to continuing those traditions. I'm humbled and honored to be joining the Auburn family."
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 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.
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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.