Let’s hope for Zach Arnett’s sake that he was renting and didn’t end up buying in upstate New York.
A little less than two weeks after the former San Diego State defensive coordinator was hired at Syracuse in the same role, Arnett has changed his mind and accepted the same position at Mississippi State instead.
“I couldn’t pass up the chance to join an SEC program like Mississippi State,” Arnett said in a school release. “I am grateful to Coach Leach and [Director of Athletics] 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.”
Arnett is a longtime Rocky Long disciple dating back to their time at New Mexico when the former was a player. The latter eventually hired the former as a graduate assistant at San Diego State and promoted Arnett to linebackers coach in 2014 and eventually coordinator after Danny Gonzales left to become DC at Arizona State.
The Aztecs defense under Long and Arnett was annually one of the best in the Group of Five and the country overall for much of their time together. SDSU ranked third in scoring defense during the 2019 season and also forced 27 turnovers last year.
The hire comes after Mike Leach had previously discussed the Bulldogs job with Navy defensive coordinator Brian Newberry. He will stay in Annapolis for 2020 however as the Capital Gazette also reported on Wednesday that he signed a new contract to stay put with the Midshipmen.
While it probably isn’t too surprising to see Leach try to hire somebody familiar with the high seas, landing Arnett is still a quality choice for MSU. It should be fascinating to see what Mississippi State looks like this fall, from both the standpoint of their head coach in general and given the number of athletes on the roster running unique versions of both the Air Raid and 3-3-5 defense. We’ll have to find out just how good the Bulldogs will be but regardless the team should look a lot different from their SEC peers on the field going forward on both sides of the ball.