The Mississippi State Bulldogs enter the 2023 season led by Zach Arnett after the untimely passing of former head coach Mike Leach. Arnett’s team had a 9-4 record last season for the Bulldogs as they brought in new coordinators to run the offense and defense.
Mississippi State Bulldogs Coaching Staff
Head Coach, Zach Arnett
At 37 years old, Zach Arnett takes over the Bulldogs program as he enters his first season as a head coach on any level.
Arnett’s coaching career began at San Diego State in 2011 as he served as a graduate assistant for the school until 2013. He was promoted to linebackers coach in 2014, holding that position through the 2017 season. Arnett kept moving up with the school as he received another promotion as defensive coordinator for the school, leading the defense for two seasons.
Mike Leach hired Arnett in 2020 as the defensive coordinator and coaching linebackers. Arnett was coordinator through last season as he coached the safeties in 2021 and 2022.
Mississippi State grieved the loss of Leach after he passed away on December 12.
Arnett was named interim head coach for their bowl game against Illinois. Prior to the game, his interim tag was removed, and he was named head coach. Playing and coaching inspired football, the Bulldogs pulled out a 19-10 ReliaQuest Bowl win over the Fighting Illini.
Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach, Kevin Barbay
New Mississippi State offensive coordinator Kevin Barbay has coached offenses in high school and college since 2003. His first major college job came with Colorado State as the director of player personnel for one season before heading to Florida for three seasons to be director of player development.
He landed his first offensive coordinator job with Stephen F. Austin and coached the quarterbacks for the 2018 season. Central Michigan called after that, as he would spend three seasons with the program. He was the offensive coordinator for them in 2021. Last season, he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Appalachian State.
- Monsignor Kelly Catholic High School (Wide Receiver Coach, 2003-2004)
- Baylor (Graduate Assistant, 2005-2006)
- Texas A&M Commerce (QB/WR Coach, 2007-2008)
- North Texas (Graduate Assistant, 2009)
- Warren High School (Head Coach, 2010-2011)
- Lamar (WR/Special Teams Coach, 2012-2013)
- Colorado State (Director of Player Personnel, 2014)
- Florida (Director of Player Development, 2015-2017)
- Stephen F. Austin (Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach, 2018)
- Central Michigan (Assistant Head Coach/WR Coach, 2019-2020)
- Central Michigan (Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach, 2021)
- Appalachian State (Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach, 2022)
Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach, Matt Brock
Matt Brock is entering his fourth season with Mississippi State and his first as the defensive coordinator of the team. Brock’s coaching career kicked off at his alma mater, Baker, where he was a graduate assistant in 2011 and 2012.
He got his foot in the door in Division 1, starting with Texas Tech from 2013 through 2015, where he helped on defense, focusing on the linebackers. Bowling Green is where he landed his first coordinator job, being the special team coordinator and coaching linebackers in 2016 and 2017.
His last stop before Mississippi State was at Washington State for another two years working as special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach.
Brock coached with the Bulldogs starting in 2020 as special teams coordinator and outside linebacker coach. In 2022, his focus shifted to linebackers for the season. Arnett promoted him this past offseason to defensive coordinator.
- Baker (Graduate Assistant, 2011-2012)
- Texas Tech (Defensive Quality Coach, 2013)
- Texas Tech (Inside Linebackers Coach, 2014)
- Bowling Green (Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach, 2016-2017)
- Washington State (Special Teams Coordinator/Outside Linebackers Coach, 2018-2019)
- Mississippi State (Special Teams Coordinator/Outside Linebackers Coach, 2020-2021)
- Mississippi State (Linebackers Coach, 2022)
Special Teams Coordinator, Eric Mele
This season is Eric Mele’s fourth season with Mississippi State, and he enters this season in his second year as the special teams coordinator. His longest stop and first Division 1 stop was with Washington State, where he coached from 2012 through 2019 as a special teams coordinator for three seasons and running backs coach for two seasons.
In 2020, he joined Mississippi State as their running backs coach before getting promoted to special teams coordinator in 2022. Last season, Mele’s special teams unit was ranked first by Pro Football Focus, fourth by Football Outsiders, and 12 by ESPN.
Running Backs Coach, Tony Hughes
Tony Hughes has been a long-time assistant coach for Mississippi State, having two different stints with the school. Hughes’ first stint was from 2009 through 2015 as he coached the Bulldogs’ safeties and was recruiting coordinator.
He would leave Mississippi State in 2016 to be the head coach of Jackson State for three seasons before returning to Mississippi State with multiple positions, including associate head coach, tight ends, nicklebacks, and currently running backs.
Wide Receiver Coach, Chad Bumphins
After a successful run playing wide receiver for Mississippi State from 2009 through 2012, Chad Bumphins returns to the program to coach the wide receivers. Bumphins’ coaching career started in 2016, coaching for multiple schools, including Iowa Wesleyan, Buffalo, Austin Peay, and his previous stop at Utah. He coached the wide receivers at Utah the last two seasons, helping lead one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.
Safeties Coach, Brett Dewhurst
Brett Dewhurst received a promotion at Mississippi State this year after spending last season as the senior defensive analyst working with the safeties. Dewhurst was previously the defensive backs coach at Texas State for three seasons. He has also coached at Southeastern Louisiana, Texas Tech, and Midwestern State.
Offensive Line Coach, Will Friend
Will Friend is new to the Mississippi State program as he comes in as the school’s offensive line coach. Friend spent the last two seasons coaching Auburn’s offensive line. He also served as Tennessee’s offensive line coach from 2018-2020. His other coaching jobs include Colorado State as offensive line coach/offensive coordinator from 2015 through 2017 and Georgia as their offensive line coach from 2011 until 2014.
Cornerbacks Coach, Darcel McBath
Darcel McBath is in the fourth season of his Mississippi State coaching era, as he has been coaching their cornerbacks since 2020. McBath also worked at Washington State from 2017 until 2019 as their cornerbacks coach as well. He also worked at North Texas as their defensive quality control analyst in 2016.
Tight Ends Coach/Run Game Coordinator, Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt is new to Mississippi State as he is coaching the tight ends and is the run game coordinator. Schmidt’s longest run as an assistant coach came with San Diego State for nine seasons, coaching their offensive line. His last two seasons have been spent at Syracuse as their offensive line coach and run game coordinator.
Defensive Line Coach, David Turner
It is also season one for David Turner at Mississippi State this year, but has been with the program twice in the past. Turner coached at Mississippi State from 2007 through 2009 as their defensive line coach and from 2013 through 2015 in the same position. His other stops include Florida, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Virginia, and NC State.