joe moorhead abilene christian 19

Coach Joe Moorhead is 14-11 through two seasons on Mississippi State’s sideline and will return for a third year in Starkville.

STARKVILLE Mississippi State is moving forward with Joe Moorhead as its head football coach.

Rumors circulated through social media in the days leading up to the Egg Bowl that Moorhead’s job was in jeopardy, but the Bulldogs were able to defeat in-state rival Ole Miss 21-20 and extend the program’s bowl streak to 10.

Moorhead will return for a third season at MSU, having led the Bulldogs to a 14-11 record on the field as well as back-to-back bowl berths and two victories over the Rebels.

The 46-year old native of Pittsburgh adamantly defended his job after Thursday night’s victory, which pushed State to 6-6 this season.

“I know my value as a coach and how I’m viewed around the country by my peers at this level and the next,” Moorhead said. “Everyone is coaching for their job everyday. That’s a part of this profession and I get it. That aspect of it didn’t phase me at all because there was no inclination from anybody outside of these rumors and innuendo that that was even the case so it was just business as usual this week at it’ll be business as usual for the bowl.”

Team chemistry

This year, the Bulldogs were hampered by an academic fraud scandal which led to eight-game suspensions for 10 players coupled with numerous injuries and a starting quarterback situation that was never fully settled.

“We’ll get there,” Moorhead said. “I understand that people were frustrated at times and no one was more frustrated than me. But to have a knee-jerk reaction and say this and say that in Year 2, they can go pound sand. I don’t care. The only people I care about are the kids in that locker room.

“You ask any one of them who they want to be the head coach of this school. The rest can go kick rocks.”

Moorhead was hired as State’s head coach on Nov. 28, 2017 after being named the national offensive coordinator of the year for the 2016 and 2017 seasons at Penn State. He was also tabbed the No. 1 rising assistant coach in college football entering the 2017 season by both Sports Illustrated and Yahoo.

Moorhead, who served as head coach of his alma mater Fordham from 2012-15, guided Mississippi State to an 8-5 record in his first season and the program’s first appearance in the Outback Bowl.

Moorhead’s initial four-year contract was extended following the 2018 season along with a raise. His salary increased from $2.7 million to $3.05 million this fall in addition to raises to $3.15 million in 2020, $3.25 million in 2021 and a $3.35 million salary in 2022.

Moorhead is just the second coach at MSU to take the Bulldogs to back-to-back bowl games in his first two years, joining Jackie Sherrill. He’s also the second since World War II to claim the Golden Egg Trophy in his first two tries, matching Dan Mullen.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com

Twitter: @loganlowery

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