Coach Lebby looking over his shoulder while holding a football

“He’s our guy,” MSU athletics director Zac Selmon proclaimed as he addressed the Bulldog faithful who braved the elements to welcome Lebby.

Lebby soon followed by declaring confidently that Bulldog football is heading in an incredibly exciting direction.

“It will be a show,” Lebby explained. “It’ll be a show that a lot of people are going to want to see, and it’ll be a show that a lot of people are going to want to be a part of.”
It’ll almost certainly be a show once Lebby gets his team on the field this fall. If the best indicator of the future is the past, then everything in Lebby’s career suggests the Dawgs are about to put up points like never before.

The offensive mastermind has been the architect behind some of college football’s most feared offenses for nearly a decade. Big plays, touchdowns and excitement are what Lebby has long been known for.

“When you think of college offense, you think of Lebby,” State’s wide receivers coach and MSU alumnus Chad Bumphis said.

Yet, for all the yardage State will rack up with Lebby at the helm and all the points the Dawgs will score, that’s not why folks believe Lebby is destined for success in Maroon and White.
Sure, college football experts will point to figures like how every one of Lebby’s offenses the last five seasons has ranked inside the top 25 in terms of plays that have gone for 20 or more yards. Or how, since 2019, no offensive coordinator in the country has had more combined first downs and touchdowns than Lebby’s squads. However, those closest to Lebby say he’ll soon be leading MSU to great heights–not merely because of strategy and the statistics his schemes produce–but because of who he is.

Just ask State quarterbacks coach Matt Holecek, who has worked alongside Lebby since 2020.

Quote: "I want our guys to leave Mississippi State equipped and ready to go do life. I want our guys to leave here and say, 'Man, I had an incredible college experience.' I want our guys to be able to chase championships and get a great degree." ~ Coach Lebby

“He’s a brilliant offensive mind, but more than that he’s a great person,” Holecek said. “He loves the kids. He invests in the kids.

“That, to me, is ultimately what’s going to separate us,” he continued. “Obviously, the stats and the wins and all that will speak for themselves as far as his success in the past, but who he is and how he sets the culture of the program every day, that’ll be what ultimately separates us.”

MSU tight ends coach Jon Cooper is another who’s had the chance to learn how Lebby operates over the years. Cooper and Lebby worked together previously at both the University of Central Florida and Oklahoma.

Cooper describes Lebby as a man who is completely consumed with caring for his guys.

“Jeff Lebby as a football coach is kind of hard to explain because he is unique,” Cooper said. “He’s a connector. He’s a people person more than anything, and that’s who he is as a coach. He’s going to love these guys, these young men, this staff and everybody around before he expects anything out of them. He’s really going to pour into these young men because that’s how he was raised.

“He was raised by a coach and saw it done the right way in so many different places,” he added. “He’s learned so many different things from so many mentors and people he’s been around his whole life that there’s no doubt that he’s going to be successful as a head coach.”

Lebby’s care for things beyond the football field can already be seen inside State’s football facility. Since Lebby arrived, MSU has revamped its player development system, now known as the DAWG—Developing A Winning Gameplan—Program. It goes to show how Lebby prioritizes the person over the performer on the path towards game day glory.

“I want our guys to leave Mississippi State equipped and ready to go do life,” Lebby explained. “I want our guys to leave here and say, ‘Man, I had an incredible college experience.’ I want our guys to be able to chase championships and get a great degree.

“So, when we talk about the purpose of the program, there’s a lot of things that go before winning a championship, but winning a championship is dang sure on there,” he continued. “For our guys, it’s all about growth and connection and having a great experience while we’re on the chase to win a trophy.”

But it’s not just the players Lebby wants to find total happiness and fulfillment. He wants the same for his assistant coaches.

Quote: "Coach Lebby has an elite offensive mind. He cares for and develops his players. That's a recipe for a lot of great success." ~ Zac Selmon

Co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach Matt Barnes said one of the biggest reasons he made the choice to leave Memphis and join Lebby at MSU was Lebby’s focus on family.
Lebby adores his wife and two children, and he plans to make sure his staff has as much time as possible to treasure their families as well.

“Family is a huge part of it,” Barnes said. “I know Jeff to be a wonderful family man and that was his pitch to me. He said, ‘We’re going to do this thing the right way. Our kids will be in the building, at practices and that type of thing.’

“A lot of people talk about having a family atmosphere, but it certainly feels that way here, already.”

Put simply, there is care in the way Lebby coaches. There is substance behind all of his statistical achievements. His priorities are in order. People come before points. But make no mistake, plenty of points are on the way, too.

Lebby truly seems to be the total package.

“Coach Lebby has an elite offensive mind,” Selmon said. “He cares for and develops his players. That’s a recipe for a lot of great success. I know that the best days are ahead for Mississippi State football.

“I’m beyond confident that Jeff is the perfect leader for the next exciting chapter and will bring an exciting brand of football, elite student-athlete development and a winning culture,” he continued. “In my mind, there’s no better person to lead our program now and into the future.”

By Joel Coleman, Photo by Athletics