By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Dan Mullen will have to make at least one coaching hire this offseason.
Mississippi State strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis has left Mullen’s staff after five years to take the same position at the University of Connecticut.
The move was confirmed Thursday by an MSU spokesperson.
Balis was the first hire Mullen made when he accepted the head coaching position for the Bulldogs in December 2008. Mullen has often referred to Balis “as the most important part of our program” and described him as the top strength coach in the country.
Balis and Mullen had stints at both Utah and Florida together prior to their stop in Starkville.
The 41-year old Balis, who has also coached at Virginia and Houston, was hired by new UConn coach Bob Diaco. It was during his stint with the Cavaliers where he coached with Diaco during the 2007-08 seasons.
UConn went 3-9 last season, the third consecutive losing season under former coach Paul Pasqualoni.
Several Bulldogs who advanced to the NFL credited Balis with their development and continued to train with him in the offseason even after their professional careers began.
Receiver Chad Bumphis, the former Tupelo High School and MSU stanadout, has @ImSo_BalisMade1 as his Twitter handle.
Four members of Mullen’s initial staff remain in place – offensive coordinator Les Koenning, tight ends coach Scott Sallach, offensive line coach John Hevesy and safeties coach Tony Hughes.
Running backs coach Greg Knox coached during Mullen’s first season after his first hire, Frank Wilson, departed for Tennessee 20 days after being hired.