Leach’s staff filled with old Washington State assistants

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, February 4, 2020

STARKVILLE — Mississippi State’s football coaching staff under Mike Leach will include most of the assistants from his previous stop, and only one holdover from the previous regime.

Of the 10 assistant coaches on the staff, seven are following Leach to Starkville from Washington State. Only defensive coordinator Zach Arnett, associate head coach Tony Hughes and safeties coach Jason Washington did not work with Leach at Washington State.

Arnett’s hire was announced in January. The rest of the staff was announced Tuesday.
Hughes is the only holdover from the staff of former head coach Joe Moorhead, who was fired on Jan. 3. Hughes, considered one of the top recruiters in the country, is a Mississippi native and has worked at five different colleges in the state.

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Other than a three-year stint as Jackson State’s head coach from 2016-18, Hughes has been an assistant at Mississippi State since 2009 under former head coaches Moorhead and Dan Mullen.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to once again be coaching at Mississippi State,” Hughes said in a statement. “Coach Leach has assembled an outstanding staff, and I look forward to helping our program reach its potential in any way I can.”

Arnett is coming to Mississippi State after two seasons as San Diego State’s defensive coordinator, and Washington spent the last three seasons as the recruiting coordinator and cornerbacks coach at Texas.

The rest of Leach’s first staff will come from Washington State, where he was the head coach from 2012 until Mississippi State hired him away on Jan. 9.

Eric Mele (running backs), Mason Miller (offensive line), Dave Nichol (inside receivers) and Steve Spurrier, Jr. (outside receivers) will comprise the offensive staff. Leach will serve as the offensive coordinator and coach quarterbacks himself.

Spurrier is the son of legendary Florida and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. He was on Leach’s Washington State staff the past two seasons, and has been an assistant at five other schools in a coaching career that started in 1994. He was on his father’s staff at South Carolina from 2005-15.

“I’m ecstatic to be back in the SEC and a part of Mississippi State’s tradition,” Spurier Jr. said in a release. “I’m honored to continue to coach with Coach Leach and this outstanding staff. I’m really impressed with the group of receivers on this team and can’t wait to recruit the great state of Mississippi.”

The defensive staff is Hughes, Arnett, Washington, Matt Brock (outside linebackers), Darcel McBath (cornerbacks) and Jeff Phelps (defensive line).

Brock will also be the special teams coordinator.