Steve Robertson (

Former Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English shares his thoughts on his new job at Mississippi State.

At some point, just about all college football coaches cross paths. Newly hired Mississippi State safeties' coach Ron English faced off with his new boss, Dan Mullen, nearly a decade ago in the 2008 Capitol One Bowl. The match-up between two of the top young coordinators in the college game, saw English and Michigan trying to find a way to slow down Mullen, the Florida Gators and future SEC icon Tim Tebow.

On that January day, it was English and the Wolverines who emerged victorious, 41-35. Now wearing the Maroon and White of Mississippi State, English made mention of the fact that he has a bowl win over the Top Dawg on his resume.

In the grand scheme of things, it is perhaps the greatest compliment among coaches that former foes extend job offers to coaches who made them work harder for wins.

"I think that's how a lot of guys hire," English said. "You coach against guys and they like what you did. It is a real compliment. It really is. I think it's really changing in some ways too. There are some guys who go out and hire their buddies, but there are other guys who go out and hire coaches based on their body of work."

Mullen knows the resume of new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham well. The two SEC veterans split a pair of games between Georgia and Mississippi State in 2010 and 2011. 

The Bulldogs have been one of the top offensive team's in the Southeastern Conference under Mullen's direction. With some experienced leadership now on the defensive staff, the Bulldogs are hopeful that they see similar levels of production on both sides of the ball.

"He has done fantastic here," English said of Mullen. "He has done a great job and I know he wants to get this thing back to competing for a championship. I think he's done a nice job with his staff. Todd is a proven coach who has done a great job. I'm glad to be here to work with him."

English shared that he had always considered a future in coaching in the Southeastern Conference. Once it was known behind the scenes that Grantham would be taking over the defensive play calling in Starkville, Mississippi State became an intriguing possibility for English.

"I was looking at some other places and I got a call from a friend of mine,"  English explained. "He told me that this job was open and asked me if I was interested in the job. I told him that I was and that sort of got us talking.

"My friend asked me if I would be interested in working with Todd here. I called Todd and he asked me if I was interested and then he called Dan and Dan called me. That's pretty much how it worked. I came in and interviewed and I was fortunate enough to get the job."

The chance to work with coaches he respected was a big part of things, but in the end English saw Starkville as a place to be a part of something special. To aid in the process of a Bulldog run towards some bigger and better things.

"One of the main reasons that I was interested in the job was because of what they have done here," English said. "For a long time (Mississippi State) was seen as a tough place to win. They had not won a lot of football games and then Dan (Mullen) comes in and they've won a lot of football games. That interested me and I considered being a part of all of this."

Now dressed in official issue Adidas Mississippi State apparel, English is looking forward to getting on to the practice field next month and putting his new players through the spring practice paces. While fall camp will determine the season opening depth chart, the former San Jose State defensive coordinator plans to get back to basics when the team hits the field March 2nd.

"I just want to teach them the game of football," English said. "I want to get them playing hard and tackling. I want to get them to being disciplined and consistent. It's really about getting to know them and them getting to know me. I think that's the biggest thing with these kids. If they know you and trust you, then you have a real chance. They'll listen to you.

"There are a lot of guys who can coach and a lot of guys who know what they're doing, but you have to get the players to buy into you. If you can get them to do that, then you have a real chance."

English fills the vacancy on the defensive staff vacated by former assistant Maurice Linguist who is now at Minnesota.

The former California Golden Bear safety spent the early years of his coaching career as a secondary coach before taking over as defensive coordinator at Michigan and then Louisville. 

After just one year at Louisville, English accepted the head coaching job at Eastern Michigan where he coached for five seasons.

The Pomona, California native will be the third safeties coach at Mississippi State since Mullen was hired following the 2008 season. Veteran coach Tony Hughes manned the position for seven seasons before he accepted the head coaching position at Jackson State following the 2015 football campaign. Linguist served just one season before taking the same post at Minnesota. 

Gene's Page Top Stories