With Rutgers searching for a new head coach and Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead reportedly being among the top candidates to fill the vacancy, the rumor-denial season is in full swing in Starkville. Days after Moorhead deflected the idea of him leaving Mississippi State to take the Rutgers job, some of Moorhead’s players are coming to his aide to shut down the idea the coach would return to his home state.
“It’s funnier to him than anything,” Mississippi State quarterback Garrett Shrader said, according to a Mississippi Clarion Ledger report on Tuesday. “He’s not leaving an SEC West program. He’s told me that multiple times.”
“He’s our coach. He’s been the same guy,” Shrader said. “He’s passionate about this team. He’s very vocal about that. He’s not going anywhere.”
Joining Shrader in attempting to shut down the Moorhead-to-Rutgers rumor mill was running back Kylin Hill, who summed up the discussion as nothing more than the typical banter that seemingly happens during the silly season that is the coaching carousel.
“There’s always going to be outside noise,” Hill said. “That’s the world we live in today. I’m not too focused on it. Nobody’s focused on it. Everybody loves the man.”
Moorhead and Mississippi State will have their attention set on this week’s game. The Bulldogs hit the road for a game at Texas A&M on Saturday. Mississippi State is looking to even its record at 4-4.
Rutgers is looking for a new head coach and Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead is supposedly the so-called frontrunner for the job, according to reports out of New Jersey. But would the Mississippi State head coach leave the SEC to take on the massive undertaking at Rutgers? For now, at least, the Bulldogs head coach is saying all the things you would expect a coach in a current job to say.
“It’s not something that’s under consideration,” Moorhead said to Paul Finebaum of SEC Network when asked about his potential interest in the job on Friday afternoon. “My focus is here at Mississippi State. This is where we want to be and this is what we want to do.”
Moorhead is in his second season as head coach of Mississippi State. Moorhead’s northeastern roots as a New Jersey native seem like a natural fit to take on the Rutgers coaching job. Whether Moorhead is leaving one program stuck in the bottom half of its own division in the SEC for a chance to be stuck in the bottom half of its division in the Big Ten remains to be seen. Moorhead is saying everything a current head coach should be expected to say, whether he genuinely means it or not.
Rutgers fired Chris Ash at the end of September after a 1-3 start capped by a blowout loss at Michigan. Tight ends coach Nunzio Campanile has been serving as the team’s interim coach while the search for a permanent replacement for Ash is found.
Mississippi State just improved the depth at the quarterback position. Keytaon Thompson has decided not to explore his transfer options any further and will remain with the Mississippi State program, head coach Joe Moorhead announced on Monday.
Thompson has already returned to Mississippi State football practices and has been slotted as the second-string quarterback behind starter Tommy Stevens (who transferred to the program from Penn State to reunite with his former offensive coordinator, Moorhead). Thompson explored his transfer options by entering his name in the NCAA transfer portal one day after Stevens had been named the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs by Moorhead. Such a move by a quarterback not being named the starter has been a common occurrence over the past year, and a handful of transfer quarterbacks have gotten off to stellar starts this season (Justin Fields at Ohio State, Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma, and Jacob Eason at Washington to name a few).
Thompson’s decision to stay at Mississippi State is a nice boost for Moorhead. Thompson is a former four-star recruit from the New Orleans area and he likely would have had some worthwhile options to explore if he wanted. Among those options likely could have been Florida, where former Mississippi State Dan Mullen and a number of former Mississippi State staff members who were involved in his original recruiting now reside. But with Thompson deciding to stay in Starkville, at least for now, gives Moorhead another player with the potential to rely on in the offense. And given Moorhead’s past as an offensive coordinator at Penn State in finding ways to utilize Stevens when he had Trace McSorley locked in as a starting quarterback, perhaps the head coach will find some ways to get Thompson involved in the offense as the season continues.
The instant Tommy Stevens entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal, a possible reunion with Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead felt somewhat obvious. Now, according to a report, Stevens could be one step closer to joining the Bulldogs.
Stevens, who is transferring from Penn State and is officially in the transfer portal, reportedly has scheduled three official visits for the next week. As reported by 247 Sports, the visits will begin with Miami Ohio this weekend and continue with a trip to Illinois at the beginning of next week. Mississippi Strate will get the last chance to make a sales pitch next Thursday.
Stevens previously played under Moorehead when the Bulldogs head coach was the offensive coordinator at Penn State. While Stevens was not a starter for the Nittany Lions, Moorhead found ways to get the athletically gifted athlete involved in the offense as a receiver, runner or passer. Penn State scaled back how much they tried getting Stevens involved last season.
Stevens will be eligible to play right away this season wherever he ends up going.
The NFL draft is rapidly approaching on the football offseason calendar. The time when college football fans and NFL fans can come together in one single football event is always a fun time of the year for a variety of reasons. For college football fans, the bragging rights about having more players drafted than your rivals is something that is given close attention, and don’t think the coaches aren’t eager to cash in on the NFL draft buzz either.
This year, as is typically the case, a handful of coaches from the college game will be heading to the draft to send off some of their most recent success stories. Among those attending the event this year in Nashville will be some familiar faces. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and Alabama head coach Nick Saban will be the headliners at the draft among the college football coaching fraternity. Other head coaches attending the event will include David Cutcliffe of Duke, Matt Luke of Ole Miss, Ed Orgeron of LSU, Mark Stoops of Kentucky, Willie Taggart of Florida State, Joe Moorhead of Mississippi State, and Lincoln Riley of Nebraska.
Although not a head coach, Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson will also reportedly be in attendance.
These are coaches of schools that are either well-represented at the NFL Draft on a regular basis and/or have some key players who may be going in the first round. Unfortunately, the NFL Draft being held in Nashville will not include either head coach from Tennessee or Vanderbilt unless there is a change in the plans.
For those keeping score at home, and there is unquestionably at least one of you doing so, that is five coaches from the SEC, three from the ACC, and one each from the Big Ten the Big 12.
The 2019 NFL Draft will run from April 25-27. The Arizona Cardinals currently own the top pick, which could end up being used for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma, Kyler Murray.