Penn State Football

Manny Diaz Emerges as SEC Head Coaching Candidate

Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has emerged as a candidate for Mississippi State’s head coaching vacancy, per Andy Staples of On3 Sports.

Mississippi State fired head coach Zach Arnett after only one season in Starkville Monday.

Diaz’s performance with the Penn State defense over the past two years has put the former Miami Hurricanes head coach back on a short list for a head coaching position this offseason.

Under Diaz, the Nittany Lions‘ defense ranks second nationally in total defense, second in team sacks, fourth in tackles for a loss, and first in turnover margin. Penn State’s defense ranks fourth in scoring defense nationally, giving up 13.1 points per game.

Staples listed Diaz along with former Bulldog coach Dan Mullen, Kansas head coach Lance Leipold, Tulane head coach Willie Fritz, SMU head coach Rhett Lashlee, Liberty head coach Jamey Chadwell, and Georgia defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann. With Diaz’s performance this season with Penn State’s defense, this will likely not be the last time Diaz’s name is brought up this coaching cycle.


Before the 2023 season, Diaz told the media that “being the defensive coordinator at Penn State is a better job than being the head coach at a lot of different schools,” and that his position at Penn State gives him the opportunity to be “selective” in looking for another head coaching opportunity.

Penn State fans may remember that this would not be the first time a James Franklin assistant left the Nittany Lions to take over the Bulldogs program.

After the 2017 season, Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead left the Nittany Lions to become the head coach at Mississippi State, spending two seasons with the Bulldogs and going 14-12 before being let go.

With two games to go before the end of the 2023 Nittany Lions regular season, Penn State fans may want to savor Penn State’s defensive performance under Diaz, because plenty of programs will come knocking this offseason for Diaz’s talents.

MORE: Penn State Should AVOID These Two Popular Offensive Coordinator Candidates

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About Author

Robert Casturo

Expertise: College Football, Penn State Football Education: Saint Vincent College, Penn State Law School Location: Washington, DC Experience: Robert Casturo has covered Penn State football for NittanyCentral since 2022. Casturo previously covered Penn State football through a social media presence (@PSU_FB_Thoughts on X) since 2019. Casturo earned his bachelor's degree from Saint Vincent College in 2015, where he was a punter for 1 season on the Saint Vincent College football team and worked in the athletic department for 2 years as a student manager. Casturo earned his JD from Penn State Law in 2018 where he was a senior editor of the Penn State Law Review.