Zach Arnett has been with the Mississippi State program as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator since Mike Leach came on as head coach in 2020.

After Leach’s passing at the age of 61 this week due to complications from a heart condition, Mississippi State moved quickly to keep the program’s continuity going.

Arnett is now officially the head coach of the program, the school announced on Thursday. Arnett said in a statement he’s honored to be the leader of the Bulldogs, but that no one can replace Leach:

“I’m honored that Bracky Brett and Dr. Keenum have the faith in me to lead our program,” Arnett said. “This is an extremely challenging time for both me and everyone associated with Mississippi State football. No one can ever replace Coach Leach and the impact he had on MSU and all of college football. This team is full of strong, resilient young men and we are committed to continuing to build on the foundation Coach Leach laid and continue to honor his legacy.”

Arnett’s contract will be for 4 years, which is the maximum number of years allowed under state law in Mississippi. It will pay him $3 million per year.

Prior to his time with Leach at Mississippi State, Arnett had been at San Diego State from 2011 to 2019, working his way up to defensive coordinator from 2018 to 2019.