Two years after hiring Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State is moving on from Joe Moorhead.
"Mississippi State is considering a change at its head coaching position, sources told Sports Illustrated on Thursday night," reported Ross Dellenger. "School officials have been in deep discussion about coach Joe Moorhead’s future since the 38-28 loss to Louisville in the Music City Bowl in Nashville. A decision has not been officially made, but many signs point to the program soon parting ways with the second-year coach, a stunning and rare move so late in the offseason and so early in Moorhead’s tenure.
On Friday, Moorhead was fired:
"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," athletics director John 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."
It will be the second hire for Cohen, a former Mississippi State baseball player who was the Bulldogs' baseball coach from 2009-16 and associate athletics director briefly in 2016 before becoming AD in November 2016.
Two years ago, UAB head coach Bill Clark, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, then-Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and then-Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day were reportedly on Mississippi State's short list. Day is the only of the four known to have turned down the Bulldogs' offer. UAB has managed to retain Clark despite a remarkable rebuild of a dead program. Clark, an Alabama native who's spent his entire coaching career in state, including the last six years (four seasons) at UAB, where he's won 20 games the last two seasons. He has zero Power Five experience but has recruited every corner of the region. Day and Pruitt aren't leaving for worse jobs, and no one knows if Venables will ever leave a $2-million coordinator job he loves.
Todd Grantham was Mississippi State defensive coordinator in 2017 before following Dan Mullen to Florida. The 53-year-old is a former Georgia and Louisville assistant and widely regarded as one of the top coordinators in college football. It's also worth mentioning Geoff Collins spent four seasons in Starkville and coaches make lateral moves every year. As unlikely as it seems, we've seen crazier.
Might Bryan Harsin be interested? He's a Boise native and regarded as a lifer by some but interviewed at Oregon and Tennessee in recent years and makes less than $2 million per season. Luke Fickell could be in the mix, as could Blake Anderson and Willie Fritz. Like Clark, it's baffling a Power Five program hasn't poached Fritz, a proven program-builder who's recruited the entire south and southeast.
Other names to consider: Louisiana head coach Billy Napier, former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik, LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, former Arizona State head coach Todd Graham, Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko, North Texas head coach Seth Littrell, and the obligatory mention of Mike Leach.