By the time Mississippi State had reached the end of the regular season, change had become the word that might would have best described the coaching staff of the Bulldogs.
During the season, many fans grumbled, hoping to see a change at the defensive coordinator position, but at first, most of the rumors swirled around Dan Mullen, making it sound, at least for a time, that he might be leaving Starkville. After rumors of Mullen being interested in or a target of several schools such as Miami, Maryland, Virginia and others, Mullen still remains the head coach in Starkville.
However, it would not be long before change came to the Bulldogs. As Mississippi State prepared for the Belk Bowl, Jackson State decided to head in a new direction hiring the Bulldogs' safeties coach and recruiting coordinator, Tony Hughes as their new head coach.
The changes continued when shortly after Mississippi State's victory over North Carolina State in Charlotte, Miami announced it had hired the Bulldogs' defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz, to the same position.
Earlier this week, Mississippi State officially announced several well-known changes. Perhaps the biggest being the hiring of a new defensive coordinator, Peter Sirmon, who previously served as the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at Southern California. He also served as defensive coordinator in the Holiday Bowl. Sirmon played professionally with the Tennessee Titans for seven seasons.
The Bulldogs also officially introduced Pascagoula native Terrell Buckley as a member of the coaching staff earlier this week. Buckley comes to the Bulldogs from Louisville, where he coached cornerbacks. In his time on the Cardinals coaching staff, Louisville led the ACC in interceptions and turnovers gained. Buckley will coach the secondary in Starkville and serve as the recruiting coordinator.
While introducing two new faces, the Bulldogs officially acknowledged that cornerbacks coach Deshae Townsend has moved on to the same position with the Tennessee Titans. The former Pittsburgh Steeler and Super Bowl champion had been in Starkville for three seasons.
Mississippi State also announced that long time defensive line coach Dave Turner has been promoted to assistant head coach, while continuing as defensive line coach.
The departure of Townsend leaves one assistant coaching position still open at Mississippi State. It will be interesting to see what Mississippi State does with the position. On the offensive side of the ball, every position group has a coach: Quarterbacks (Brian Johnson), Wide Receivers (Billy Gonzales), Running Backs (Greg Knox), Offensive Line (John Hevesy), Tight Ends (Scott Salach). On the defensive side of the ball, Terrell Buckley has taken over for the secondary, a position that did see Hughes coach the safeties and Townsend coach the cornerbacks. As of now, the defensive coaching positions are as follows: Linebackers (Peter Sirmon), Defensive Line (David Turner), Secondary (Terrell Buckley).
So what will Mississippi State do with the open position? It will be interesting to see. Here are a few guesses:
1. Hire the best recruiter available and squeeze him in. This may put a double-dip at a position and an interesting title, but if it leads to large recruiting gains, all will be well.
2. Hire a special teams coordinator. Knox currently splits duties between the running backs and special teams. For several years, Bulldog fans clamored for Mullen to hire a special teams coordinator and give up the position. He did that in a way by giving Knox control of the unit. The hiring of a special teams coordinator would probably be well received by many Bulldog fans.
3. Hire a someone to coach either safeties or cornerbacks to help Buckley. With Buckley also serving as recruiting coordinator, it may help him to have someone with whom to split the secondary. This also makes the 2016 staff built like the 2015 staff, especially if the new coach takes over cornerbacks and Buckley stays with safeties.
4. Hire a linebacker coach to free up Sirmon. This might not be a bad move given that this will be Sirmon's first time as a defensive coordinator. If he does not have to focus on a position group, it could help him adjust to the new role.