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Mississippi State’s Ride on the Coaching Carousel Continues As Luke Getsy Returns to the NFL

As late as a week ago, it appeared Mississippi State would be returning the majority of its staff from the 2018 season, with only Tony Hughes as a new face on the coaching directory. That changed on Sunday, as running backs coach Charles Huff made it official that he would be leaving for a similar position at the University of Alabama, this after withdrawing from the head coaching search at the University of Akron in mid-December.

Huff was Joe Moorhead’s first hire upon getting the head coaching job at Mississippi State, and the only assistant to follow him from Penn State to Starkville. Huff’s role at Alabama has yet to be set, but all indications are he will remain as a running backs coach, possibly with a title of co-offensive coordinator added. Huff’s reputation as an elite recruiter certainly will not suffer while in Tuscaloosa, and he appears to remain on a fast track to being a head coach one day himself.

Monday night brought another change, as ESPN’s Green Bay Packers reporter Rob Demovsky broke the news that Bulldog offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Luke Getsy would be returning to the franchise, this time as the quarterbacks coach. Getsy also had strong connections to Moorhead, having played and coached for him while at Akron.

Getsy was MSU’s offensive coordinator in title only, as Moorhead had 100 percent of the playcalling duties this past season, and while the receiving corps was better statistically at the receiver position from 2017 to 2018, the Bulldogs did not display the explosive passing offense promised by Moorhead in the offseason, and the unit was plagued by drops all season long.

With the February signing date only three weeks away and MSU hosting its biggest recruiting weekend of the year starting this Friday, these moves seem to be happening at the worst possible time. Reports seem to indicate that Moorhead had some idea these departures were coming, and that the Bulldogs could have at least one new coach on staff before the prospects arrive in Starkville. Hughes is also awaiting his final instructions as to where he will be on staff, be it one of these spots or Mark Hudspeth’s former role as tight ends coach.

As for what I think, on the one hand, MSU’s offense was largely ineffective this year, especially in the five losses, so perhaps some changes on that side of the ball are necessary. That said, these moves weren’t pushed by MSU, and these were Moorhead’s hand picked guys, the coaches I felt would be similar to John Hevesy, Greg Knox, and Billy Gonzalez for Dan Mullen, the ones who would stick through thick and thin. MSU had so little turnover on the offensive side of the ball during Mullen’s tenure, it’s unusual to see it happen today. I will be interested to see the names that crop up in the coming days, and what if any connection the new hires had to Moorhead previously.

On the other side of the coin for MSU, the Bulldogs did get contract extensions done for defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and defensive line coach Brian Baker, as reported by Steve Robertson of Gene’s Page.

To me, this is the biggest news of the offseason for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State has employed ten different defensive coordinators since 2007, with no coach remaining on staff for longer than two seasons. It was imperative that Joe Moorhead put this cycle to an end, and coming off such a successful campaign, it’s clear that Shoop is among the nation’s best assistants. He was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s best assistant coach, and put together a group that finished #1 overall in total and scoring defense in the NCAA. Baker has turned into one of the nation’s top developers of defensive line talent, and two of his pupils, Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat, will likely hear their names called in the first round of the NFL Draft this April. This past year, it was the defensive line and safeties that led that Bulldog defense, and those positions are coached by Baker and Shoop, respectively.

Mississippi State will spend the next few days or perhaps weeks riding the coaching carousel. We will have to wait and see what names the Bulldogs land on, and who will be in Starkville for the 2019 season. We’ll have plenty more about this on the Thunder & Lightning Podcast, and on SportsTalk Mississippi.

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