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Mississippi State welcomes Joe Moorhead: 'Moor Cowbell' is the cry

The former Penn State offensive coordinator will be formally introduced Thursday after two successful seasons with the Nittany Lions.

Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead congratulates  wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton after the win over Nebraska.
Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead congratulates wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton after the win over Nebraska.Read moreAbby Drey/Cetre Daily Times/TNS

Less than 24 hours after Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead agreed to become the new head football coach at Mississippi State, a T-shirt already had gone into circulation in Starkville, Miss.

"Moor Cowbell," the T-shirt read, a reference to the custom of Bulldog fans ringing cowbells at football games.

There was excitement in town Wednesday when the university made the formal announcement of its new coach, naming Moorhead, 44, a Pittsburgh native who had rejuvenated the Penn State offense over the last two seasons with a clever and innovative read option attack.

Moorhead returns to the job of head coach, one he held for four seasons at Fordham, where he went 38-13 before James Franklin hired him in December 2015 to come to Happy Valley.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Franklin said he "couldn't be happier" for Moorhead and his family.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for him to return to being a head coach and continue to move forward in his career," Franklin said. "We are so appreciative of everything that he has done for Penn State football in his two years.

"Joe's combination of leadership, X's and O's and, most importantly, positive attitude brought the best out of our very talented student-athletes. He has been a great mentor and coach to our student-athletes and a friend to me and our staff. We wish him nothing but success at Mississippi State."

Junior running back Saquon Barkley, who had the type of season that launched him into consideration for the Heisman Trophy, offered his own thank-you note to Moorhead on Twitter.

"Mississippi State got a great one in @BallCoachJoeMo, wish you the best and nothing but success!!!! #ThankYou," Barkley wrote.

Moorhead, who will be introduced Thursday morning at a news conference that will be televised on the SEC Network, said in the release announcing his hiring that it was "a tremendous honor."

"I am thrilled to take the reins of an SEC program that has been as successful as this one has the past decade," he said. "I look forward to getting to know the young men on our team, hiring a staff and hitting the recruiting trail quickly. My family and I are excited about being a part of the Starkville community."

With a bowl game remaining, Penn State ranks seventh in the nation in points scored (41.6 per game), 25th in passing offense (285.8 yards per game) and 28th in total offense (453.3 per game). Trace McSorley averaged almost 305 yards of total offense, good for 14th in the nation.

Moorhead replaces Dan Mullen, a native of Drexel Hill and an Ursinus graduate, who resigned last Sunday to take over as head coach at Florida. Mullen posted a 69-46 record with the Bulldogs over nine years, including 8-4 in 2017.

Moorhead's offense at Penn State showcased the talents of Barkley and McSorley and led the team to a 21-5 record. The new head coach will inherit a talented quarterback in Bulldogs junior Nick Fitzgerald, who rushed for 984 yards and 14 touchdowns and passed for 1,782 yards and 15 scores.