Sam Houston State has run a defense with some of the same structure as McNeese State, so the Bearkats expect a smooth transition in hiring defensive coordinator Mike Collins away from the Cowboys.
Sam Houston State announced the hiring on Wednesday as its new defensive coordinator switched Southland Conference programs. His new team has won two straight conference titles and reached the FCS championship game in each of the past two seasons.
Collins coached 12 seasons over two stints at McNeese State, including since 2008. He also was the Cowboys' assistant head coach and secondary coach.
The 2009 Cowboys were Southland co-champions.
"This is a great opportunity. I'm excited to be a Bearkat," Collins said. "What interested me most about the position was the outstanding job coach (Willie) Fritz has done here at Sam Houston. I appreciate the way the team has played with such discipline. I've also seen the support the university administration has given the program. Sam Houston obviously is committed to success in athletics. I am thankful for the opportunity they have given me."
Previously, Collins was the defensive coordinator and later the head coach at his alma mater, Louisiana-Monroe, the defensive coordinator at Northwestern State, and he spent the 2003 season as an intern on Nick Saban's national championship staff at LSU, then was the linebackers coach a year later.
Collins replaced Steve Stoker, who left Sam Houston State last month to become the defensive coordinator at UTEP. Stoker served in that position with the Bearkats the last four seasons.