Jeff Lebby has a background that many would envy. And his most recent accolade is becoming the head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs who had a disappointing 2023 season finishing 5-7 under recently fired first year head coach Zach Arnett.
Getting to know new Mississippi State head coach Jeff Lebby
Before taking the job at Mississippi State, Lebby led high-powered offenses at the FBS levels at UCF, Ole Miss and most recently Oklahoma. In addition to being the offensive coordinator at each of these schools, Lebby has also been the quarterback coach and has come to be known as quite the offensive and quarterback guru.
In 2018 and 2019 at UCF, Lebby coached two of the most well-known quarterbacks in the program’s history in Mackenzie Milton and Dillon Gabriel. Each set records at the school that still stand today.
Gabriel eventually followed Lebby to Oklahoma and the two helped lead the team to a 10-2 regular season. Gabriel finished the regular season with 3,660 passing yards which was good enough for fifth in the country, while the Sooners offense as a whole average 502 yards per game which was good enough for fourth nationally.
Thanks in much part to their success and the projected transfer of current Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers, Gabriel is speculated to maybe follow Lebby again to Starkville to use his final year of eligibility as the Sooners have stud freshman quarterback Jackson Arnold waiting in the wings to take over in Norman.
Lebby has also coached under offensive-minded coaches Josh Heupel and Lane Kiffin who are currently the head coaches of Tennessee and Ole Miss respectively.
In his first year as offensive coordinator at his three stops on the FBS level, Lebby has a winning percentage of 56%. In year two, it jumps to 74%. This is a significant jump and most likely Mississippi State was looking at knowing that they need another offensive-minded coach in an offensive-minded league. The late Mike Leach was just that, and it showed for the Bulldogs as they had some successful campaigns under him. Arnett was the counter on the defensive side of the ball, and the lack of production showed. So needless to say, the Bulldogs aren’t in a hurry to repeat that.
Additionally, in year two of Lebby’s stints as offensive coordinator, each team had 10 or more wins in each of those seasons.
In addition to Lebby’s higher win percentage in year two, it’s also noteworthy that the year after he left UCF and Ole Miss, the two teams combined for a 14-9 record, which equates to a winning percentage of 64%. This begs the question that if the reason for teams’ successes at many of Lebby’s stops had a lot more to do with him than it may other coordinators.
Time will tell if these numbers align positively for the Bulldogs in the ever-competitive SEC West. But if they want a chance, an offensive coordinator that has coached some record-breaking quarterbacks may just be the guy.