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Mississippi State hires Zach Arnett as defensive coordinator

Mississippi State coach Mike Leach is hiring Zach Arnett as his new defensive coordinator, the school announced Wednesday.

"Zach is one of the brightest defensive coaches in all of college football," Leach said in a statement. "Having been mentored by Rocky Long during his successful time at San Diego State, Zach understands what it takes to build and run an elite defense."

Arnett spent the past six seasons coaching for San Diego State, the past two as defensive coordinator. He had recently accepted the defensive coordinator spot at Syracuse, but instead will join Leach in Starkville.

"I couldn't pass up the chance to join an SEC program like Mississippi State," Arnett said in a statement. "I am grateful to Coach Leach and [AD] John Cohen for the opportunity to be a part of this first-class institution. Mississippi State has a history of great defenses. The staff Coach Leach has assembled is tremendous, and I can't wait to get down there and get to work."

Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack issued a statement saying he was "disappointed" in Arnett's decision.

"We are disappointed that Zach Arnett has decided not to honor the commitment he made to Syracuse University," Wildhack said. "We will continue to work diligently to find the best defensive coach for our program."

Arnett, who played linebacker at New Mexico for Long, coached San Diego State's linebackers from 2014 to 2019.

Mississippi State considered Navy defensive coordinator Brian Newberry and others for the coordinator role. Leach brought several offensive assistants with him from Washington State to Mississippi State.