I suspect we will be hearing more reports like the one that came out Monday regarding the much heralded defensive guru.
Per ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Diaz is among several potential candidates for the head coaching job at Mississippi State. The Bulldogs parted ways with Zach Arnett on Monday morning, making him the second SEC coach to be fired so far this weekend.
Texas A & M’s Jimbo Fisher was the other head coaching casualty.
In just his second season as Penn State’s defensive coordinator Diaz has turned the Nits into an elite defense, a defense that ranks in the top five in most defensive categories.
Mississippi State isn’t expected to consider many coordinators in its search, but Diaz certainly would be an exception.
He would bring previous head coaching experience from his time at the University of Miami a couple years ago, where he went 21-15 with a No. 22 AP finish before being let go when Mario Cristobal became available.
Diaz would be a good fit at Mississippi State having already had two previous stints there as their defensive coordinator, most recently in 2015, and has also had successful coordinator stints at Miami, Texas, Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee and of course Happy Valley.
In his first stint with Mississippi State back in 2010, Diaz guided a defense that ranked 22nd in the nation in scoring defense (19.9 ppg), 17th in rushing defense (214.9 ypg) and 17th in tackles for loss (7.0 pg). That was a dramatic turnaround for MSU from the season prior to his arrival. In 2009, the Bulldogs’ defense finished 71st in scoring, 62nd in rushing defense and 89th in tackles for loss. MSU also finished ranked 13th in red-zone defense (.730) and 22nd in turnovers forced (28) nationally that year.
Mississippi State’s nine wins in 2010 were the most for the school since a 10-2 record in 1999 and was just the second winning season for the program since 2001. The Bulldogs finished ranked No. 15/17, its highest final ranking since 1999 (No. 13/12).
In his second stop at MSU Diaz’ Bulldogs held opponents to 23.2 points per game and ranked in the nation’s top 10 in red zone defense and tackles for loss.
Because of his booming success at Penn State the last two years, Diaz could have a few head coaching options should he choose to go that route.
It all depends on how long he wants to wait to see what choices are out there.
But, Diaz does have a strong resume from his time in Starkville and if MSU decides to go with a coordinator to be their next head coach, Diaz would probably be their first choice and best choice. Stay tuned.