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.
Mississippi State Hot Board via @Andy_Staples🔥
— On3 (@On3sports) November 14, 2023
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.