Joe Moorhead hasn’t even coached a game in the SEC yet but he’s already sending subtle shots to other coaches in the league who might be trying to paint him in a negative light.
In a long interview with USA Today about adjusting to life at Mississippi State after decades spent as an assistant and head coach in the Northeast, Moorhead pretty firmly pushed back at a few theories of how to recruit in the area and why he could conceivably be at a disadvantage with all his experience coming north of the Mason-Dixon line.
“I truly believe the regional aspect of recruiting and coaching couldn’t be more overblown,” he said. “If you can recruit you can recruit. If you can coach you can coach.” Nick Saban and Urban Meyer aren’t Southern, he finishes, and they did OK in the SEC.
“Where you’re born doesn’t guarantee success,” he tells them, “but it doesn’t eliminate it.”
The comments can be seen as a fairly direct response to South Carolina’s Will Muschamp, an SEC veteran at several schools, who told The State at league meetings that recruiting in the conference is different from anywhere else and presents some difficulty for outsiders to pick up on and manage.
“As much as anything, what’s different in our league is the recruiting element,” Muschamp said. “It’s 24/7, 365 and you have to be involved or it will get away from you. That’s what a lot of coaches who come in our league don’t always understand is that side of it.”
Moorhead definitely has a good point about two of the most dominant coaches in recent SEC history being from elsewhere and still cleaning up on the recruiting trail. In the end, their tenacity at going after top prospects is what separates the Saban’s and Meyers’ of the world from the pack much more so than where they’re from or what kind of accent they might have — certainly the more relatable traits to takeaway for somebody new to the area.
Muschamp’s original comments came as he was asked about new Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt, who also has a lengthy resume filled with SEC experience. While we may not be able to test this insider/outsider theory completely using Moorhead and Pruitt as examples, the two newbies do serve as a nice dichotomy as to how to approach the job of running one of the league’s 14 programs.
Perhaps the biggest shame however, is that the Bulldogs and Gamecocks don’t meet again in the regular season until 2023 so we won’t get the head-to-head clash between Muschamp and Moorhead to prove who’s right on the subject between the lines.