STARKVILLE, Miss. (KXAN/AP) – Mississippi State has reached into its past to find a new defensive coordinator.
Bulldogs’ coach Dan Mullen confirmed on Monday that Manny Diaz has been hired to replace Geoff Collins, who left the program in December to become defensive coordinator at Florida. Terms of Diaz’s contract were not immediately disclosed.
Sports Illustrated first reported the hire.
He was hired by Texas in 2011 to be defensive coordinator under Mack Brown. But the Longhorns often struggled during the next two-plus years and Diaz was fired early in the 2013 season after a dismal performance against BYU. It was the first time in Brown’s career as a head coach that he ever fired an assistant during the season.
Diaz’ tenure with the Longhorns started out strong, guiding Texas to the 12th best defense in the country, allowing just over 300 yards per game in 2011. The next season, though, the Longhorns dropped to 80th, giving up nearly 100 yards more per game.
The bottom fell out for Diaz during the Longhorns second game of the 2013 season, when Texas gave up a school record 550 yards rushing, 259 to quarterback Taysom Hill.
Diaz spent the past season as the defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech, where he helped lead the Bulldogs to a 9-5 record.
This will be Diaz’s second stint with the Bulldogs — he was also the defensive coordinator during the 2010 season when Mississippi State finished with a 9-4 record, including a win over Michigan in the Gator Bowl. Mississippi State ranked 22nd in the country in scoring defense that season, giving up just 19.9 points per game.
That performance made the 40-year-old a hot name in the coaching profession, leading to his hire at Texas.
Now Diaz will be charged with leading a Mississippi State defense that faltered down the stretch during the biggest games of the season. Mississippi State was the No. 1 team in the country for five weeks during October and November, but gave up a combined 105 points in losses to Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia Tech to tumble out of national title contention.