Joe Moorhead, who revitalized the Penn State offense over the last two seasons with an up-tempo, no-huddle attack, has accepted the head coaching job at Mississippi State, according to several reports Tuesday night.
The hiring, first reported by Brett McMurphy on Facebook and later confirmed by CBSSports.com and ESPN, would be the first FBS head coaching job for Moorhead. He coached Fordham for four seasons, leading the Rams to a 38-13 record, before accepting James Franklin's offer in December 2015 to become the Nittany Lions' offensive coordinator.
Moorhead, a 44-year-old native of Pittsburgh, would replace Dan Mullen, a former Drexel Hill resident and Ursinus College graduate who left after nine seasons to accept the head coaching job at Florida.
The reports said Moorhead's hiring is expected to be finalized in the next few days. The question of whether Moorhead will stay to coach the Nittany Lions in their bowl game has yet to be answered.
Under Moorhead's guidance, the Nittany Lions employed an explosive offense that showcased the talents of running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Trace McSorley and led the team to a 21-5 mark going into the bowl game.
This season, Penn State ranked 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). McSorley averaged almost 305 yards of total offense, good for 14th in the nation. The offense had ranked 105th in total yardage the year before Moorhead took over.
Moorhead had offers to become an FBS head coach last season, even fielding interest from Temple among other schools, but decided against making the move from Penn State.
"Two reasons, personal and professional," Moorhead said in an interview before last year's Rose Bowl. "I'm two hours from my folks. My wife's a couple hours from her family. My kids love it here in State College. We're a program on the rise and James [Franklin] is great to work for. We have great kids. It just made the most personal and professional sense to stay here, because great things are on the horizon."
But in the end, Franklin, who expressed great satisfaction that he didn't lose anyone from his staff after last season, likely will watch Moorhead move on.