January 9, 2014 8:17:48 PM
STARKVILLE - Mississippi State strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis is leaving his position with the Bulldogs program to take a similar job at Connecticut.
MSU football spokespeople confirmed the news to The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog Thursday afternoon.
Balis, who had been the strength and conditioning coach under head coach Dan Mullen since he was hired as the head coach at MSU, has often been referred by Mullen as "the most important part of his program" and has called him "the best strength coach in the country."
Attempts to contact Mullen by The Dispatch were not successful but MSU spokespeople were able to confirm the information after speaking with members of the MSU coaching staff.
Only four members of Mullen's initial coaching staff in 2009 are left today with offensive coordinator Les Koenning, tight ends coach Scott Sallach, offensive line coach John Hevesy and safeties coach Tony Hughes.
Balis will be working under new head coach Bob Diaco with the Huskies program.
UConn hired the 40-year-old Notre Dame defensive coordinator as its new head coach on Dec. 11.
Diaco takes over a team that went 3-9 this season, and fired Paul Pasqualoni after an 0-4 start and an 10-18 record in just over two years at the school.
MSU offseason individual player workouts begin next week.
Balis came to Starkville from Virginia, where he served two years as the strength and conditioning coach for the Cavaliers' football program.
While he was at Virginia, Balis got introduced to Diaco as their linebackers and special teams coach from 2006-08.
Prior to his stint in Charlottesville, Balis previously served as the assistant director of strength and conditioning at Florida in 2005 and 2006 when Mullen was the offensive coordinator with the Gators.
The Florida football team completed the 2006 season with a 13-1 record and won the Southeastern Conference Championship and the BCS National Championship.
Before joining the staff at Florida, Balis worked two years at Utah as the director of strength and conditioning for the entire 16-sport program in 2004 when Mullen was the quarterbacks coach with the Utes football program.
Balis was directly in charge of designing and implementing strength and conditioning programs for football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball and volleyball.
The football team completed the 2004 season with an overall record of 12-0 and won the Fiesta Bowl. He served as assistant strength coach at Utah in 2003.
Balis was also an assistant strength coach at Houston for two years and before moving to the college level, he was an assistant football coach and worked in the area of strength and conditioning at Wheaton (Ill.) Warrenville South High School for two years and at Wheaton (Ill.) North High School for three years.
He also taught physical education at the elementary school level during that five-year period.
Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.
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