With all the hand-wringing over MSU possibly losing head coach Dan Mullen, the real worry is clearly evident now: Losing assistant coaches.
Already, receivers coach Mark Hudspeth has left to take the head post at UL–Lafayette. Now, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has interviewed for the same job at Texas. Diaz has only been in Starkville for a year, but he's already drawn the attention of some powerful people.
Texas might have struggled this past season, but that's a plum job, one that Will Muschamp excelled at well enough to be named coach-in-waiting in Austin and then get hired as Florida's head coach. The Longhorns currently rank sixth in the country in total defense this season; they ranked third last year.
Diaz is just one of several candidates, but he's got a pretty good résumé for as short as it is. You know what he's done this year in turning around MSU's defense. At Middle Tennessee State, his defense led the Sun Belt Conference in sacks and tackles-for-loss twice, and the Blue Raiders were second in the country in TFLs in 2009. He's a young (36), energetic guy with a defense that reflects his personality.
That might be just what Texas is looking for.
As for MSU, athletics director Scott Stricklin has said the assistant coaches are all in line for raises this year. Diaz currently makes $260,000 a year; Muschamp made $907,000 this year. Diaz wouldn't start out at that high a salary if he was hired by Texas, but you can bet he'd get a significant increase, perhaps more than MSU could dole out.
While losing an asset like Diaz would sting, that's the price you pay for success. I'm no historian, but I'm pretty sure MSU hasn't had this many coaches in demand at once, at least not in a long while. I mean, there are some pretty decorated coaches on this staff.
So, what are the chances some of these other guys stick around a while?
• Chris Wilson, the co-DC and defensive line coach, previously coached at Oklahoma. By the way, if Diaz were to leave, Wilson would seem a natural fit as his replacement, so that's a carrot that could keep him around.
• John Hevesy, the offensive line coach and running game coordinator, was with Mullen and Urban Meyer at Florida, Utah and Bowling Green. He seems pretty attached to Mullen, so I'm not sure how easy it would be for someone to pry him away from Starkville.
• Les Koenning, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, has been all over the map, literally: Alabama, Rice, Duke, Texas, the NFL, TCU, etc. So he seems to have a wanderlust built into his psyche. Koenning turns 53 next month, though, so maybe he's ready to settle into one place.
• Greg Knox, the running backs coach, spent nine years at Auburn, so he seems like the kind of guy that might stay a while. You've got to give him some credit for what he did with the running backs this year, and this is a guy that previously coached only receivers or special teams (and might slide over to Hudspeth's vacated post, but that's just me thinking out loud).
Anyway, those are the guys that I think might draw the most attention from other schools. Thoughts?