Who will replace Mike Leach as Mississippi State head coach?
One of football’s greatest minds was taken from us when the legendary Bulldogs coach suddenly died on Monday, leaving huge shoes to fill
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are preparing for their ReliaQuest Bowl game against Illinois on January 2nd, just as Mike Leach would have wanted them to. After his sudden passing on Monday, Bulldogs defensive coordinator Zach Arnett was placed in charge of the program, and that has now been made a permanent move.
“The players are 100% behind playing this bowl game and doing what Coach Leach would expect them to do,” said interim Athletic Director Bracky Brett. “We all know that’s what Coach Leach would want, and it’s what we should do.”
The 36-year-old Arnett has never served as a head coach before, and now finds himself in a baptism of fire. The number 22-ranked Bulldogs were 19-17 under coach Leach and have been a program on the build under his tutelage. The university fathers now are hoping that coach Arnett will bring stability to the team.
Familiar with Leach’s gameplan, Arnett provides a familiar face to a program that is already searching for a new athletic director after losing John Cohen to Auburn. A brilliant defensive coordinator in his own right, Arnett will now need to steady the Bulldogs through not only the bowl game but beyond, into the 2023 recruiting class.
After nine years on the San Diego State class, Arnett now finds himself coaching a Power Five team in the SEC, arguably the toughest conference in football. A former New Mexico linebacker, Arnett is now the youngest defensive coordinator to get a Power Five head coaching job.