Report: Zach Arnett to Be Named Mississippi State HC in Wake of Mike Leach's Death

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVDecember 14, 2022

STARKVILLE, MISSISSIPPI - OCTOBER 08: A view of the Mississippi State Bulldogs logo before the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Davis Wade Stadium on October 08, 2022 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
Justin Ford/Getty Images

Mississippi State will reportedly announce defensive coordinator Zach Arnett as its next head football coach following the death of Mike Leach, according to Pete Thamel of ESPN.

It will reportedly be a four-year deal, though Thamel added that terms of the contract have not been finalized.

Pete Thamel @PeteThamel

"The school wants to give the players a strong leader to help them through the grieving process and give them stability," a source said. "Zach is the guy for that. Zach embodies MSU and understands it, and he's going to build on the foundation that Coach Leach set."

Leach died on Monday night after he was hospitalized for complications related to a heart condition, per ESPN. He was 61.

"We are supported and uplifted by the outpouring of love and prayers from family, friends, Mississippi State University, the hospital staff, and football fans around the world," his family said in a statement. "Thank you for sharing in the joy of our beloved husband and father's life."

Leach was in his third season at Mississippi State after prior stints at Texas Tech (2000-09) and Washington State (2012-19). He was 19-17 with the Bulldogs and 158-107 overall in his coaching career.

"I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Mike over the last several years," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said after learning of Leach's death. "I never knew quite where our conversations were going, but they always made me smile. He was an offensive innovator who always did things his way and was admired for it. His teams were well-coached and extremely challenging to defend. They played with poise and toughness, which is a credit to his leadership."

Arnett's first game as Mississippi State's head coach will be in the upcoming ReliaQuest Bowl against Illinois on Jan. 2.

Arnett has served as Leach's defensive coordinator for the past three seasons with the Bulldogs. Prior to that, he held multiple positions for San Diego State between 2011-19, which included a promotion to defensive coordinator in 2018.

He also played college football at New Mexico as a linebacker.