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    BONEYARD The Arnett era begins

    Over the course of the last two decades, Mississippi State has hired head football coaches with an offensive background. Coach Jackie Sherrill is the last top dawg to have taken a college snap as a defensive player. In fact, Sherrill played both ways for Bear Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide.

    Sherrill was followed by Sylvester Croom, a former All-American center at Alabama. Croom spent his first few seasons as a college coach supervising linebackers, but built a professional pedigree as a running backs coach and offensive coordinator in the NFL.

    After Croom was let go, former Bulldog director athletics elected to “spread the fun” by hiring Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen. Things changed in a big way under Mullen’s direction. Fans should not forget that the first play of the Mullen era was an end around pass thrown by true freshman Chad Bumphis. While the pass to O’Neal Wilder fell incomplete, the Bulldog crowd applauded. Finally, some excitement on offense.

    Mullen elected to return to Florida as the head coach following the 2017 season. Then Bulldog athletic director John Cohen tried to replicate the pattern of Byrne by hiring an up and coming offensive minded coordinator. Joe Moorhead was considered by some as the top offensive play caller in the country. Working on James Franklin’s staff at Penn State, Moorhead helped the Nittany Lions to a Big-10 championship.

    Moorhead’s run-pass-option style scheme never truly took root in Starkville and he was fired after just two seasons. Fans are still smarting over a 2018 season that had an SEC championship caliber Bulldog defense and a very pedestrian offense.

    Cohen cut the cord before things got out of hand and made the move to go get one of the most innovative offensive coaches in the history of the game, Mike Leach. Mississippi State was able to lure Leach away from Washington State to bring the Air-Raid to Davis Wade Stadium.

    2020 had its challenges, but the Bulldog football program had some too. It appeared State had won big in the transfer portal when Leach inked for Stanford signal caller KJ Costello. Things got off to a roaring start as Costello set an SEC single game record for passing on the road at defending national champion LSU. That upset proved to be the only true highlight of the regular season as Costello simply could not stay healthy.

    When Leach assembled his first staff, he turned to long time friend Rocky Long. While Leach was unable to get Long to join him in Starkville, Long did pass along a recommendation. Leach took that advice and named Zach Arnett to run the 3-3-5 scheme. The move worked out and Arnett quickly become a hot commodity.

    Three years removed from that decision, Arnett has now been tabbed as the man to replace Leach after his untimely passing. The was always the belief that Arnett would be a head coach at some point. That time is now.

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