Polk's return leaves many wondering What if?'

By By Marty Stamper
April 8, 2002
A lot of Mississippi State folks are wondering what if?' these days and it doesn't have a thing to do about whether Mario Austin returns to MSU next season or turns pro.
What many maroon-and-white fans were wondering this weekend was, What if Ron Polk had stayed at the University of Georgia?'
Wouldn't this past weekend have been something? State hosted Georgia in a three-game series at Dudy Noble Field, Friday-Sunday.
State didn't play Georgia in the regular season in Polk's two years at Athens. They met in the SEC Tournament in 2000 with Georgia winning 5-0 and in 2001 with State coming out on top 8-4 en route to winning the tournament championship.
Polk had led the Diamond Dogs from 1976-97 with 18 SEC Tournament appearances, 15 regional tournament appearances, and five trips to the College World Series.
When Pat McMahon was hired as an associate head coach and told he would be the head coach in three years, many thought Polk was unfairly being phased out of coaching by being upwardly promoted.
That train of thought gathered momentum when Polk returned to coaching at Georgia in 2000.
At the same time, when he made that move, many State fans were adamant in their thinking that his name be removed from Polk-Dement Stadium which is named partially in his honor.
How the two groups would have reacted this weekend had Polk worn red and black, we'll never know. Even Polk had mixed feelings about the series which State won two games to one.
Polk is known for his even-keel demeanor. Don't get too high when you win, don't get too low when you lose is his mantra. Yet his players sensed this weekend was something different. He normally doesn't spend much time with the opposition in pre-game activities. He did Friday.
With Polk home, the interesting scenario will now be played out May 3-5 when McMahon brings the Florida Gators to town for a three-game series.
As for Austin, if he wants to go pro that's fine. After all, how many players stayed at MSU four years and didn't add a SEC championship banner to the rafter?

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