It’s not that simple, of course. Turning down an offer to be defensive coordinator at the University of Texas is hard to do. Right now, that’s a better football program, this year’s record notwithstanding.
MSU is still in the infant stages of what it hopes is the process of becoming, as head coach Dan Mullen put it last week, “a destination school.” That’s what Texas is.
Scott Stricklin, MSU’s eternally optimistic athletics director, thinks that process is well under way. It’s worth noting that Diaz said there were only two or three schools he would’ve left for, and he wasn’t trying to find a new job when Texas called.
He was content to remain in Starkville a while.
“One of the opportunities is to stay and grow with (MSU),” Stricklin said. “I think we’ve got a lot of coaches who see that opportunity. I think we have a head coach (Dan Mullen) who sees that opportunity.
“There’s no one size fits all. Everybody has different situations, different circumstances in their life.”
Stricklin also wants MSU coaches to have the chance to move on to other programs, if that’s their desire. He wants MSU’s coaches to be wanted.
So Stricklin has no problem with, say, receivers coach Mark Hudspeth leaving last month to become head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette.
After all, Stricklin, an MSU graduate, had jobs at Auburn, Tulane, Baylor and Kentucky.
“When you’re successful, those kind of things are happening,” he said. “It beats the alternative. It beats a program that’s stagnant, where you’re being a school where coaches go and they don’t have any opportunities after they go to your place.
“We’re building a program where coaches come to have opportunities.”
Opportunities in Starkville
For Diaz, that opportunity was found in Austin. For Chris Wilson, it’s right in Starkville. The co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach was promoted Thursday to Diaz’s vacated position.
And Angelo Mirando, a 25-year-old who I think just started shaving last week, is the new receivers coach. Big opportunities for both guys.
So, see, MSU isn’t necessarily just a stepping-stone school. And even if it is, so what? All it means is that MSU keeps hiring really talented people, which probably means the football team is having annual success.
Every winning program has to deal with this, but they keep winning because they attract more top-notch talent. And given what the Bulldogs did this year, and Mullen’s commitment to remain as head coach, more up-and-coming assistants are going to give MSU a hard look.
It’s a cycle that State is not familiar with. Sure, there’s turnover every year, because this is college football, but how often have coaches left MSU and actually wound up in a “better” job?
Look at last year. Defensive coordinator Carl Torbush left for the same job at Kansas. You could argue that was a step backwards.
Defensive line coach David Turner left for the same job at Kentucky. Again, backwards.
Diaz moved up. Hudspeth moved up.
In the future at MSU, maybe moving up won’t mean moving on.
Brad Locke (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Mississippi State for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at NEMS360.com.