Mississippi State will hire defensive coordinator Zach Arnett to replace Mike Leach

Mississippi State was working to finalize a four-year contract with the 36-year-old Arnett.

SHARE Mississippi State will hire defensive coordinator Zach Arnett to replace Mike Leach
The video board at Davis Wade Stadium displays a message in memory of Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach.

The video board at Davis Wade Stadium displays a message in memory of Mississippi State football coach Mike Leach.

Theo DeRosa/The Commercial Dispatch, via AP

Mississippi State is promoting defensive coordinator Zach Arnett to head coach to replace Mike Leach, who died suddenly of a heart condition earlier this week.

Mississippi State was working to finalize a four-year contract with the 36-year-old Arnett, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because a deal had not yet been completed. ESPN first reported the move.

Leach, 61, died Monday night at a Jackson, Mississippi, hospital after falling gravely ill on Sunday at his home.

Arnett was put in charge of the team by Mississippi State officials in Leach’s absence. With the early signing period a week away and the transfer portal active, Mississippi State was motivated to move quickly to put a new coach in place. The Bulldogs also play Illinois in the Reliaquest Bowl on Jan. 2.

Arnett has been Leach’s defensive coordinator since he took the head coaching job at Mississippi State in 2020.

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