'Swag is State': Coach Jeff Lebby arrives at Mississippi State football

STARKVILLE — Mississippi State football players were lifting athletic director Zac Selmon on to their shoulders. Fans of the maroon and white faithful were clanging their cowbells at George M. Bryan Airport. The band was playing the hits commonly heard at Davis Wade Stadium.

The occasion for the gathering? The arrival of MSU’s newly named football coach and former Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.

“It’s humbling,” Lebby told the crowd. “I just absolutely love the fact that I’m going to get to go to work every single day at a place that has so much passion and such care and such toughness about playing football. I love the fact that there’s incredible support. There has been great players here for a long time. We’ve got great players here right now. I can’t wait to get around the guys.”

With wife Staley, daughter Kora and son Kane standing alongside him on a maroon carpet rolled out in front of MSU’s private plane, Lebby got his first look at the fan base he inherited.

After a 5-7 season that saw former coach Zach Arnett fired after the 10th game of his tenure, Mississippi State fans are hungry for a winning team. They’re also looking for an exciting product. The Bulldogs finished last in the SEC with 21.8 points per game. Oklahoma, in its second season with Lebby calling plays, finished third in the nation with 43.2 points per game.

“People understand what we’ve done in the past," he said. "We’re going to be a football team that scores a bunch of points.”

His remarks were cut off momentarily as the cowbells started to ring.

“We’re going to put a very exciting brand of football for everybody who is so passionate about the game of football here at State,” Lebby continued. “You guys are going to be incredibly proud of what’s happening on Saturday afternoons at Davis Wade. That’s a promise.”

FIRST BIG MOVE: Why Mississippi State football coaching hire is crucial for athletic director Zac Selmon

When asked why MSU is the right fit for him, Lebby said it was a no-brainer.

“For a long time, State was a great, cool, awesome place to go to school,” he said. “Cool is State. Swag is State.”

Lebby’s welcome to Starkville will continue into Monday. He will be introduced at 7:30 p.m. CT outside the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex, with a news conference to follow.

Stefan Krajisnik is the Mississippi State beat writer for the Clarion Ledger. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @skrajisnik3.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Coach Jeff Lebby given hero's welcome by Mississippi State football