Grantham will be MSU's new defensive coordinator


Ben Wait



STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen will have a new defensive coordinator for the fourth-straight year. 


On Wednesday, Mullen announced the hiring of Louisville coach Todd Grantham as MSU's new defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. 


In other coaching news, MSU safeties coach Maurice Linguist accepted the defensive backs position at Minnesota, reported. MSU didn't confirm Linguist's departure. 


Grantham replaces Peter Sirmon, who served one season as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach under Mullen. On Wednesday, Sirmon was named Louisville's new defensive coordinator.  


"Todd has proven to be one of the best defensive coordinators in the country this decade," Mullen said in a statement released by the school. "He understands what it takes to build a physical and aggressive defense at the highest of levels. We are excited to welcome he and his family to Starkville." 


Grantham spent the last three seasons at Louisville, where he served as Bobby Petrino's defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach. Before that, he served as the defensive coordinator at Georgia from 2010-13. 


Grantham spent 11 seasons in the NFL between stops with the Indianapolis Colts (1999-2001) as the defensive line coach, the Houston Texans (2002-04) as the defensive line coach, the Cleveland Browns (2005-07) as the defensive coordinator and the Dallas Cowboys (2008-09) as the defensive line coach. 


Grantham began his coaching career at Virginia Tech in 1990. He served at Virginia Tech in multiple roles through the 1995 season. He became the defensive line coach at Michigan State in 1996 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1998. 


"When the opportunity to be part of Dan Mullen's staff presented itself it was something my family and I became very excited about," Grantham said in a statement released by the school. "Coach Mullen has built a winning program in the most challenging conference in the country. Along with our staff, I look forward to re-establishing the Bulldog defense as one of the top defenses in the country and making the fans of Mississippi State proud." 


Grantham's Louisville defenses performed well against the run in his three seasons. The Cardinals were 12th in rushing defense last season (115.2 yards per game), 14th in 2015 (120.2 yards), and 10th in 2014 (108.9 yards). Grantham's defense held Dalvin Cook to 54 yards in a 63-20 victory against Florida State. Cook had 1,765 yards on 288 carries and 19 touchdowns for the season. 


The Cardinals finished No. 14 in total defense in 2016 (322.2 yards), No. 18 in 2015 (332.8 yards) and No. 6 in 2014 (308.5 yards). The Cardinals led the nation with 26 interceptions in 2016 and the 58 in the last three seasons are the most in the country. 


"He is definitely a 3-4 guy and a big name with a good reputation,"'s Mike Hughes told Bulldawgs247. "He likes to blitz a lot and is aggressive and will also coach the outside linebacker. His defense forces a lot of turnovers. He has a proven track record and will get talent to Mississippi State." 


MSU was No. 70 in rushing defense (177.5 yards) and No. 110 in total defense (459.1 yards) under Sirmon last season. Sirmon brought a 3-4 defense with him to MSU and it featured a the "viper" position. The "viper" was a hybrid linebacker/defensive lineman. 


Grantham is the second former Louisville coach Mullen has hired in the last year. He hired Terrell Buckley as his cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator last spring.  


Mullen hired a new defensive staff last spring with Sirmon, Buckley, Brian Baker as defensive line coach, and Linguist as safeties coach. 


Mullen is still looking to hire a quarterbacks coach. Brian Johnson was hired last month to be the new offensive coordinator at Houston. 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Ben Wait on Twitter @bcwait


Ben Wait reports on Mississippi State University sports for The Dispatch.


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