The Mississippi State Bulldogs made the decision to part ways with their head coach Zach Arnett after one full season on the job. Arnett took over for Mike Leach after he passed away in December of last year. After leading the team to a bowl game victory, the Bulldogs went 4-6 this season, only winning one conference game.
Now, the search begins for Mississippi State to bring in a new head coach to the program. Here are some candidates that could make sense for the Bulldogs starting in 2024.
Mississippi State Head Coach Candidates
Luke Getsy (Current Job: Chicago Bears Offensive Coordinator)
If Mississippi State is looking for a coach who can help develop quarterbacks, Luke Getsy has proven to be that guy. Best of all, he already has experience coaching in college football and worked for Mississippi State in the past.
Back in 2018, Getsy was the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for the Bulldogs, where the team went 8-5 that season under first-year head coach Joe Moorhead. Getsy’s offense averaged 28.5 points per game, scoring over 30 points in six of those games. He would go on to return to the NFL to the Green Bay Packers coaching their quarterbacks.
Getsy’s responsibility for the last two seasons in Chicago is to develop quarterback Justin Fields. The result has been Fields has slowly become one of the NFL’s most dynamic mobile quarterbacks. Not enough credit has been given to Getsy for his work with undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent this season as Bagent has won two starts at quarterback for Chicago this season with Fields injured.
It’s not known if Getsy would return to the college ranks and come back to Mississippi State, but the Bulldogs have some pieces to work with offensively. He could be the guy to get them back to a .500 program.
Mike Denbrock (Current Job: LSU Offensive Coordinator)
Despite the LSU Tigers being at 7-3 so far in the 2023 season, the one constant with this team this season has been how good their offense has been. LSU offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock has been the catalyst behind the offense exploding onto the scene.
Denbrock has helped the Tigers rank first in the nation in total offense (560.2), second in points (45.9), fourth in rushing yards (223.9), and fourth in passing yards (336.3). This was an offense he took over last season that averaged 368.5 total yards per game in 2021 and improved it to 453 yards per game in 2022, which was ranked 28th.
He’s been an offensive coordinator in some big schools in the past, including Notre Dame and Cincinnati. Denbrock knows how to bring out the best in his players and could be a logical choice to help the Bulldogs’ offense progress.
Jesse Minter (Current Job: Michigan Wolverines Defensive Coordinator)
Since Jesse Minter has been working for Michigan last season, this defensive unit has been among one of the best in the country. Last season, the Wolverines’ defense ranked third in total defense (277.1) and fifth in points (13.4). This season, the defense has been even better as they are first in total defense (232.1) and points per game (7.5).
Minter even got a chance this season to be the interim head coach for Michigan for one game as Jim Harbaugh was serving a three-game suspension at the beginning of the season. Michigan went on to beat East Carolina 30-3 in Minter’s only game as head coach.
Mississippi State’s defense has struggled this season, ranking ninth in the SEC in total defense (365.4) and 11th in points (28.2). The team could use a defensive-minded coach to help hop in and improve the defense, as the offense already has the foundation needed to be good. Minter seems ready to take the next step and lead a football program.
Willie Fritz (Current Job: Tulane Green Wave Head Coach)
Over 30 years of head coaching experience should prove all fans need to know if a coach has been successful in their career. Willie Fritz is a proven winner at every school he has coached.
Fritz has been a head coach in college since 1997, first starting at Central Missouri, going 97-47 in 13 seasons. He led the Sam Houston program, going 40-15 in four seasons, including two appearances in the national championship game. Georgia Southern was his next stop for only two seasons, finishing 17-7 and winning the Sun Belt Conference in 2014.
His work with Tulane since 2016 was a masterful job as the team has gone through its ups and downs. He has been able to ride the wave and get the Green Wave to go 20-3 overall since the beginning of the 2022 season, including a Cotton Bowl win over USC.
Fritz has worked his way up the rankings from Division II to the American Athletic Conference now. A move to the SEC would be a big jump, but one that could be good for both sides. Fritz wouldn’t have as much of a rebuild as Tulane, but enough that he could get Mississippi State back to their winning ways.
Curt Cignetti (Current Job: James Madison Dukes Head Coach)
If there is a coach who has shown to be able to turn a team around quickly, James Madison’s head coach Curt Cignetti is that guy. Cignetti has been the head coach of three different schools, and all three have transformed into winning programs and leaving them in better shape.
MORE: Nick Saban Coaching Tree
At his first two head coaching jobs at IUP and Elon, he took the schools from losing records to finish every season under Cignetti with a winning record.
Cignetti took over James Madison in 2019, helping them win three straight conference championships at the FCS level. When the Dukes moved to the FBS in the Sun Belt Conference, they went 8-3 overall with a 6-2 conference record in 2022. This season, James Madison has gone 10-0 with a 6-0 conference record.
Mississippi State could use someone who can make over the team quickly and get them succeeding. They aren’t far away from being back to a competitive football team in the SEC. Cignetti has a winning background, which would bold well in a quick rebuild of the Bulldogs program.