By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Dan Mullen has found a couple of new coaches, and just in time.
Mississippi State’s head football coach filled both of his defensive staff vacancies Friday, hiring Manny Diaz away from Middle Tennessee State to be defensive coordinator, and Oklahoma’s Chris Wilson to serve as defensive line coach.
The Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro, Tenn., first reported the Diaz hire. The Clarion-Ledger said Wilson was offered the job Friday and was likely to accept it. There were reports that Wilson, the defensive ends coach at Oklahoma, might serve as co-defensive coordinator with Diaz.
Mississippi State officials did not confirm the hires Friday, but a team spokesman said Mullen will make an announcement regarding the coaching staff during today’s men’s basketball game at Humphrey Coliseum. MSU takes on Georgia at 2 p.m.
It’s good timing on Mullen’s part. Several prospects will be on campus, and they’ll no doubt be in attendance at today’s game when Diaz and Wilson are likely introduced.
Offseason workouts began Friday for current players.
Diaz replaces Carl Torbush, who joined Turner Gill’s staff at Kansas about a month ago after just one year on the job at MSU. Diaz will also coach linebackers.
Diaz immediately surfaced as a candidate after Torbush departed. He’s two years younger than the 37-year-old Mullen, and he runs aggressive schemes.
Diaz spent the past four seasons running Middle Tennessee’s defense, and he ran it well. The Blue Raiders finished in the top three in the Sun Belt Conference in every major defensive category in 2009, including first in sacks (38) and first in turnover margin (plus-12).
MTSU, which finished this season 10-3 and beat Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl, played MSU each of the last two years. The Bulldogs won both, but the Blue Raiders’ defense kept them in the game well into the second half each time.
Prior to joining Rick Stockstill’s staff in Murfreesboro, Diaz coached for six seasons at N.C. State. He was a graduate assistant and coached linebackers, safeties and special teams during his time there.
Diaz, a 1995 Florida State graduate, worked at ESPN for two years out of college before returning to his alma mater as a secondary coach and video coordinator from 1998-99. FSU won a national title in 1998.
His father is Manuel Diaz, who served as mayor of Miami from 2001-09.
Wilson replaces David Turner, who after three seasons in Starkville took a job at Kentucky earlier this week.
Wilson has spent the past five seasons at Oklahoma, his alma mater, coaching defensive ends. The Sooners have consistently ranked near the top of the Big 12 Conference in sacks, and they were fourth this past season with 38.
Wilson was a linebacker at OU from 1988-91 and earned third-team All-American honors as a junior. He was selected in the 12th round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears but never played in the league.
He’s also coached at Colorado, Army, Illinois State, Indiana State, Northern Illinois and Northwestern Oklahoma A&M.
It was not known how much either coach’s salary would be. Torbush was the highest-paid assistant at $260,000, while Turner was set to earn $225,000 this year. MSU’s assistants were paid a little more than $1.8 million altogether in Mullen’s first year.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.