Mississippi State’s coaching search was a model of competence. It lost Dan Mullen, as most expected. But, the Bulldogs didn’t panic or make an overreaction hire losing its program’s second-winningest coach. Instead, Cohen and Co. had plainly done their homework, looking at exciting candidates who spanned a range of competencies, ages, and divisions. MSU interviewed Alabama DC Scott Pruitt, an up-and-comer who will soon helm his own team; put out feelers to former DC Manny Diaz; it looked at Memphis’ offensively-inclined Mike Norvell; and then made its hire...and it should be a pretty good one.
Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead was named the Bulldogs’ new head coach yesterday. The deal is very affordable for ‘State: $2.7 million and just four-years long, Thereby not committing itself beyond a full recruiting class. The buyout is also fair to both teams, just 60% owed should either party walk away. Mississippi State isn’t the richest school in the SEC; in fact, it’s the poorest. But, they’ve traditionally done a very good job university-wide, with meager resources. Yesterday was another example of that.
As for Moorhead himself? The move has been widely praised. To call him an offensive genius may be an undersell. He’s one of the best in the biz, and worked his way up from the DII ranks to FCS ball to FBS level to head coach in the SEC.
Bill Connelly has an outstanding story on Moorhead’s offense and what he’s done at various stops. Definitely check that out. Bruce Feldman takes an even closer look at how he tweaks offenses. It’s spectacular too. Alabama’s job didn’t get any easier, that’s for sure. With a lifetime of New England ball and a Northeast background, I would be worried about how quickly he can develop ties to local pipelines, a must in Mississippi. But, Xs and Os should find Moorhead to be a solid one.
Tennessee, meanwhile, finds itself the continued laughing stock of the conference. It looked like Vols had a very real chance of reeling in Oklahoma State’s uber-choker Mike Gundy. That fell apart by yesterday morning. (Some are speculating that it’s because he wanted an easier path to the playoffs. But I call bunk’em, because Gundy is 2-14 against his main rivals. He can’t get find the playoffs with a sextant, much less beat Oklahoma twice in one year).
Then, it appeared that Tennessee, who — keep in mind — had Greg Schiano first on its hiring board, would ass-back right into one of the hottest young coaches going, Purdue’s Jeff Brohm. Vol AD John Currie made the flight to West Lafayette, and, for a few tantalizing hours, Tennessee had it all-but sewn up. Currie must have the closing skills of a pair of old boxers, because he lost his man...again.
Now, the Vols are moving on to yet another contender for the job, NC State’s Dave Doeren, a name that’s about as hot as coffee on a Kiev patio in January.
To call him the 7-5 Butch Jones of the ACC is probably a disservice to Butch’s skills as a recruiter. Needless to say, Vols fans are not happy right now. Nor should they be. It is stunning that Tennessee is on to its 11th candidate already, having blasted through: John Gruden, Chip Kelly, Scott Frost, Dave Cutcliffe, Greg Schiano, Matt Campbell, Mike Gundy, Jeff Brohm, and Mike Norvell.
This is glorious incompetence and the natives are getting restless: booing Currie at last night’s basketball game, chanting “Fire Currie,” and “bring Lane home” while getting arrested for demanding an ouster.
Today, though, the rubber meets the road for several teams. FSU has demanded a s**-or-get-off-the-pot from Jimbo Fisher. And, NCSU expects an answer from Dave Doeren as well. State isn’t letting him go that easily, however. They made a counteroffer last night to keep their guy.
So, keep an eye on Knoxville -- the mattresses may be burning tonight...either way.