Mississippi State’s search for a defensive coordinator has taken another trip to the West Coast, with San Diego State’s Zach Arnett taking the job, as sources confirmed to SuperTalk Mississippi on Wednesday. Arnett had taken the Syracuse defensive coordinator position on January 11 but will instead move to Starkville to join Mike Leach’s staff.
Got confirmation on @PeteThamel's tweet, Zach Arnett, formerly of San Diego State and most recently Syracuse, will be MSU's new defensive coordinator.
— Brian Hadad (@brianhadad) January 22, 2020
Under Arnett, San Diego State finished 7th nationally in total defense in 2019, and 23rd in 2018. Arnett will also coach linebackers, leaving an open spot on the coaching staff, with Leach handling the roles of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Arnett comes to Mississippi State after six years with the Aztecs, four as linebackers coach and two as defensive coordinator. Asked what made Arnett an attractive candidate, Leach said “Zach is one of the brightest defensive coaches in all of college football. Having been mentored by Rocky Long during his successful time at San Diego State, Zach understands what it takes to build and run an elite defense. We are excited to welcome Zach, Emily, Case and Collins to Starkville.”
“I couldn’t pass up the chance to join an SEC program like Mississippi State,” Arnett said. “I am grateful to Coach Leach and John Cohen for the opportunity to be a part of this first-class institution. Mississippi State has a history of great defenses. The staff Coach Leach has assembled is tremendous, and I can’t wait to get down there and get to work.”
Mississippi State has not made any hires to Leach’s staff official as of yet, but the offensive and special teams staff have been documented as on the road recruiting. Those coaches include….
Eric Mele – Running Backs
Steve Spurrier Jr. – Outside Receivers
Dave Nichol – Inside Receivers
Mason Miller – Offensive Line
Matt Brock – Special Teams
Two former Washington State assistants have also apparently joined Leach from Pullman, defensive line coach Jeff Phelps and cornerbacks coach Darcel McBath. They’ll team up with Arnett and the only holdover from Joe Moorhead’s staff, Tony Hughes, who will flip from offense to defense and take over the safeties. As previously mentioned, this will leave one position open of the ten on-field assistants allowed by NCAA rules.
Photo courtesy of San Diego State athletics