The Wednesday Wrap: The beginning of the Jeff Lebby era for Mississippi State football

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 4: Quarterback Dillon Gabriel #8 of the Oklahoma Sooners throws passes as offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby watches before a Bedlam game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 4, 2023 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Oklahoma State won 27-24. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 4: Quarterback Dillon Gabriel #8 of the Oklahoma Sooners throws passes as offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby watches before a Bedlam game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium on November 4, 2023 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Oklahoma State won 27-24. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images) /

It’s Wednesday and that means it’s time to take a big picture look at the state of the Mississippi State football program.

The Mississippi State football team has a new head coach, and it is time to take a look at what it means for the next few weeks of the program.

What I’ve been wondering…

My plan for this week is to take a look at what you can expect in the first month of the program. But first I’ll give you my take on what the hiring of Jeff Lebby means for the Mississippi State football team.

The best way to describe my opinion of hiring Jeff Lebby is guarded optimism. It’s hard to look at the offensive numbers put up by Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and Central Florida, all places where Jeff Lebby served as offensive coordinator, and not get excited.

From a football perspective, the thought of having a high powered offense being associated with the Mississippi State football team is something many of us thought would never go hand in hand. My skepticism, though, comes from a recent era of Mississippi State football.

When Joe Moorhead was hired, we all heard about how the Mississippi State football team was about to exploit teams with big, explosive plays. Moorhead’s previous stint at Penn State gave us plenty of evidence to think it would be the same in Starkville.

What we got was an offense that couldn’t be run by players who lacked the elite offensive skill to make the offense work. Penn State had generational talent when Moorhead was there, and when brought to the Mississippi State football team, it simply didn’t work.

And this is my concern for what Jeff Lebby is bringing to the Mississippi State football team. Was the offense at Oklahoma the number four offense in the country because Lebby implemented a difficult to stop offense, or did he just have some of the best players in the country who were able to just rack up yards and points because they were just better than their opponents? We won’t know until we see the final product on the field. My hope is Lebby is able to make this offense work without the best players with the same skill level as the Sooners because the Bulldogs simply don’t have that.

Then there is the off field stuff. Jeff Lebby is the son-in-law of disgraced ex-Baylor head coach Art Briles. In a significant lapse of judgment earlier this year, Lebby brought his father-in-law decked out in Oklahoma gear on the field before a game, despite clear instructions from Oklahoma’s Athletics Director to not have Art Briles around the program.

In summary, I think Jeff Lebby can handle the Xs and Os to get the Mississippi State football team back on track to where Mike Leach was taking the program before his untimely passing. I am just concerned he might not have the maturity to lead a major college football program. I am hoping for the best but time will tell.

The weeks to come…

New Mississippi State football coach Jeff Lebby has a lot to do in the coming weeks. When the NCAA introduced a new early signing period for football, it made it critical for schools making a change in leadership to move quickly so they could solidify their recruiting class.

The Bulldogs have a lot of work to do in regards to recruiting. The Mississippi State football team currently ranks last in recruiting in the SEC according to 247 Sports. The good news is they have plenty of room to go up.

The class only has 16 commitments, so there is plenty of room to add players before early signing day towards the end of December. To get the recruits to commit, Jeff Lebby is going to need a staff.

Expect a flurry of announcements to come within the next week about Jeff Lebby’s staff for the Mississippi State football team. If Zac Selmon did his due diligence in making this hire, he should have inquired from Jeff Lebby what his staff might look like if he were hired. Lebby has likely already been talking to coaches about who might make the jump with him if he were offered a head coaching position.

If Coach Lebby is indeed more prepared for this job than Zach Arnett was, expect him to hire a defensive coordinator before he hires any defensive coaches. The name most people are floating is current Texas A&M Defensive Coordinator D.J. Durkin. This won’t be my favorite choice as a DC because Durkin comes with his own off field issues. It’s not a given Durkin will be the DC but he is the most likely candidate because of their previous working relationship at Ole Miss and Durkin will probably need a new job now that Texas A&M has hired Mike Elko to be their head coach.

If it is or isn’t Durkin, it should be announced soon. The defensive coordinator can then help make decisions on who else will help fill out the defensive coaching staff.

On the offensive side of the ball, the big question is whether or not Lebby will hire an actual offensive coordinator. Most people expect Lebby will handle the play calling duties himself, so an actual offensive coordinator might not be needed. There will likely be someone given that title, but they probably won’t have the same responsibilities a normal offensive coordinator has.

Most of the staff should be hired for the Mississippi State football team before signing day. There might be a few hired after, but the bulk of the staff will be hired quickly to hit the recruiting trail, and more importantly in today’s college football landscape, the transfer portal.

Many will tell the Mississippi State football fan base to be patient as this will be a rebuild, but a coach that is active and aggressive in the transfer portal can expedite the speed of a rebuild. And one thing that will seem likely for the Bulldogs is a new quarterback.

Of the current quarterbacks on the roster, Mike Wright does not appear to have the skillset to run Jeff Lebby’s offense as the full time starter. They can probably make packages for him to utilize his skillset, but he won’t be the full time starter.

Chris Parson probably does. Parson appears to have a big arm, and the running ability to make plays in what will be a heavy Run Pass Option offense. The issue for Parson will be if he is ready to take over as the full time starter. In all likelihood, Lebby would like to get a player with one more year of eligibility to bridge the gap to Chris Parson, assuming he decides to stay.

One thing to expect as well is for a number of players currently on the roster to hit the transfer portal. Parson could be one, but I think with his skillset and Lebby’s offense, Parson could see the potential for him to have success, if he is willing to be patient.

But everyone else on the roster will have to make hard choices. In less than two years, the Mississippi State football team went from an air raid, to whatever it was Kevin Barbay was trying to do, to a veer and shoot offense headed by Lebby. Expect there to be both additions and subtractions to the roster through the portal.

Can the Mississippi State football team be successful in 2024? The answer to this question will be how much success Lebby and his staff have in the portal. If they can build a roster through the transfer portal combined with the current players on the team that fit what Lebby wants to do, getting back to six or seven wins is possible, but might not be probable.

What I’ve been watching…

Ryan Nelson and I got back to recording this week. We covered two things that were a lot of fun to talk about, so head over to The Main Attraction Podcast and give them a listen.

Up first, I finally saw the biggest movie of the year, so we added Barbie to our list of films covered. It was a movie that had surprising amount of depth to it, and was a lot of fun to talk about. Go listen to it here.

The new season of Fargo debuted last week on FX and Hulu. It’s an anthology show, so every season takes on a new storyline which means you don’t have to have watched the previous seasons to watch the new one. The first two episodes of season five have been great, and you can listen to us talk about it here.

What I’ve been whistling to…

It’s after Thanksgiving, so that means it’s Christmas Music Time! One of my favorite groups that does Christmas music is Pentatonix.

One of the best Christmas songs out there is “Mary Did You Know”. The Pentatonix version of the classic is about as good as they come.

You can check out all of there other Christmas stuff on whatever music service you use. I keep their Christmas playlists close at hand this time of year.

Next. Everything to know about Jeff Lebby. dark

Next week, we might talk football, we might talk basketball. We’re getting close to a pretty slow section of the calendar for Mississippi State sports, so we’ll just see where it goes.