STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State University has fired head football coach Joe Moorhead on Friday after two seasons, confirmed by the school.
Brett McMurphy of Stadium first reported Moorhead’s firing.
Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen released the following statement confirming the news:
“In consultation with President Mark Keenum and after a thorough review and evaluation of all aspects of our football program, I have decided that a change in leadership is in the best interest of our team and university,” Cohen said. “I want to thank Coach Moorhead for the hard work he has done with our football program. I wish Joe and his family success in the future,” he said.
MSU President Mark Keenum added this statement:
“It is clear the time has come to change the leadership of our football program. Coach Moorhead is a good man, and I have nothing but respect for him. I sincerely wish the very best for him and his wonderful family.”
Sources said school officials were upset by the team’s performance in the Music City Bowl, where the Bulldogs blew a 14-0 lead on their way to a 38-28 loss to Louisville, but also with disciplinary issues, which includes a situation involving starting quarterback Garrett Shrader, who missed the game with a broken orbital bone he reportedly sustained during a fight at one of the bowl practices.
Moorhead was expected to be fired if Mississippi State lost to the Ole Miss Rebels in the Egg Bowl, sources said, but the Bulldogs won 21-20 after Ole Miss missed the game-tying extra-point attempt, which had been moved back after Rebels wide receiver Elijah Moore was penalized for pretending to urinate like a dog after scoring the touchdown.
The win made Mississippi State bowl-eligible for the 10th consecutive season.
“Coach Moorhead was a highly-respected offensive coordinator at Penn State, but as a head coach with the Bulldogs, it’s been lackluster,” a source said. “It could be the strength of the conference or even the expectations, but it clearly wasn’t clicking,” a source said to McMurphy.
In two seasons, Moorhead had a 14-12 record with the Bulldogs, including 7-9 in conference play. Moorhead’s buyout is about $7 million, a source said, but that can be mitigated to as little as $4 million through off-set language in his contract.
Moorhead, a Pittsburgh native, came to Mississippi State after being the offensive coordinator at Penn State where he coordinated record-setting offenses for James Franklin.