STARKVILLE • For most of you reading this, Joe Moorhead was just the man in maroon on your television sets or the tall guy roaming the sideline in Starkville the past two football seasons.
A lot of you may not have had the opportunity to meet the Joe Moorhead that I know. He’s the guy that took the time to learn the name of each media member and always had a handshake or a pat on the back waiting for you.
He’s the guy that had a kind word to say when my uncle died and one of the first to reach out to me when my grandmother passed away. He’s also the guy who stopped by our annual media Christmas party just to say hello and ended up staying about an hour.
In the cutthroat and backstabbing world of college athletics, Joe Moorhead is one of the good guys. I’ve had the honor of working alongside a lot of head coaches during my 15-plus years in this business and Moorhead ranks at the top as one of the genuinely nice people I’ve been privileged to cover, along with Sylvester Croom and Rick Ray.
All three of those guys were ultimately shown the door because at the end of the day, this business is not about being nice or molding young men’s futures. It’s about winning games and if you don’t do that enough to suit fan’s expectations then you’ll eventually be fired.
I understand why John Cohen had to do what he did on Friday. Moorhead underachieved during his two years at MSU and many fans had lost faith in him. If I spent my hard-earned money and took time out of my weekend to go watch some of those efforts, I’d probably be upset as well.
It’s hard for some to feel sorry or have any compassion for a guy making more coaching a few ballgames in the fall than many of us will make in a lifetime. Few take the time to consider all the wives and kids this decision uprooted or the dozens of support staffers that are barely scraping by that won’t have a job whenever a new coach is hired.
The narrative that Moorhead never fit in doesn’t fly with me. He is as down to earth and blue-collar as it gets and if that doesn’t describe Mississippi then maybe I haven’t been paying attention these last 38 years.
Moorhead will move on and some other school down the line will be the beneficiary. He will be a better coach because of his time at Mississippi State but it’ll certainly be hard for him to be a better man than he already is.