Penn State Football

Report: Penn State’s Joe Moorhead emerges as ‘high priority’ candidate for Mississippi State job

Joe Moorhead interest season is underway.

The Penn State offensive coordinator has emerged as a “high priority candidate” for the position of head coach at Mississippi State, according to a report by USA Today Sports’ Dan Wolken.

He joins Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables and UAB head coach Bill Clark as top candidates. Wolken’s report states that the Mississippi State wants the job filled by the end of the week.

Moorhead has “gained traction” with Bulldogs athletic director John Cohen as a replacement for Dan Mullen — who left Starksville for Florida’s vacancy on Sunday.

Moorhead has the experience necessary for the jump from Happy Valley. The former Fordham head coach, who racked up a 38-13 record in his time there, has helped Penn State to a 21-5 mark since his arrival two seasons ago. Penn State’s 2017 offense ranks No. 7 nationally with 41.7 points per game.

While Moorhead’s coaching history is based in the Northeast, it makes sense that the coordinator would be attractive to Mississippi State.

Competing in the SEC West division against Alabama, LSU and Auburn each season, Mississippi State needs an identity that stands out in order to compete year in and year out. Moorhead’s offense provides that. Plus, his quarterback prowess would follow up Mullen — who joined Mississippi State as Florida’s offensive coordinator in 2009 — nicely.

Moorhead, who reportedly interviewed for the Purdue job last offseason, isn’t new to head-coaching interest. And as bowl season approaches, this likely won’t be the last time his name pops up.

John McGonigal: 814-231-4630, @jmcgonigal9