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Mississippi State names Zach Arnett as the team’s next head football coach after death of Mike Leach

By David Close, CNN

Mississippi State University has hired Zach Arnett as the team’s next head football coach following the death of Mike Leach on Monday.

Hired in 2020, Arnett served as the team’s defensive coordinator for the last three seasons. The school says he agreed to a four-year deal worth $3 million per year plus incentives.

Leach, 61, died from heart condition complications, the university announced on Tuesday.

“Our football program has dealt with a stunning blow at the untimely passing of Coach Mike Leach,” Mississippi State president Mark E. Keenum said on Thursday.

“It is imperative that we bring stability and continuity to our team and our coaching staff as we move forward from this tragic event.

“I have tremendous confidence in Zach Arnett’s leadership and believe he is uniquely positioned to continue the progress Coach Leach brought to our program.”

Arnett said that he and the Mississippi State footbal team were “committed to continuing to build on the foundation Coach Leach laid and continue to honor his legacy.”

Previously, Mississippi State said it would play in its scheduled bowl game on January 2 against Illinois.

The bowl game, the ReliaQuest Bowl, will be at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers — which notably has a pirate ship inside the stadium. Leach was nicknamed “The Pirate.”

Prior to arriving in Starkville, Mississippi, Arnett spent nine seasons as a defensive coach at San Diego State University.

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