Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead was fired four days after the Bulldogs’ Music City Bowl loss to Louisville, sources told Stadium.
Moorhead’s dismissal coincides with a late-season swoon and discipline issues that plagued the program throughout the season, a source said.
The Bulldogs opened the season with seven players suspended due to a violation of team rules against Louisiana and ended the season with starting quarterback Garrett Shrader missing the Music City Bowl with a broken orbital bone suffered in an alleged fight with a teammate.
The pairing between Moorhead and the program never was “a great fit,” a source said.
“Coach Moorhead was a highly-respected offensive coordinator at Penn State, but as a head coach with the Bulldogs, it’s been lackluster,” a source said. “It could be the strength of the conference or even the expectations, but it clearly wasn’t clicking.”
In the Music City Bowl loss, the Bulldogs blew a 14-0 second quarter lead as UL outscored MSU 38-14 in the final 38 minutes.
The Bulldogs finished 6-7, tying for the most losses at Mississippi State in the past 11 seasons. It also marked MSU’s third losing season since 2009.
In Moorhead’s two seasons, Mississippi State was only 3-12 against Power Five opponents that finished with a winning record.
The Bulldogs finished the season by losing six of their final nine games – the only victories against 2-10 Arkansas, 4-8 Ole Miss and FCS member Abilene Christian. Under Moorhead, Mississippi State was 14-12, its fewest wins in consecutive seasons since 2009-10.
“Where was the ‘Bulldog, hard-working, blue-collar football?’” a source said. “Whether it was schematics, culture or discipline, it just wasn’t working. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy or bad coach, they just needed a change.”
In Moorhead’s first season, the Bulldogs had some success against Associated Press Top 25-ranked opponents, winning two of their first three games. But since then, the Bulldogs lost their last four games against AP Top 25-ranked opponents by an average margin of 24 points.
Moorhead, who had never been an FBS head coach before Mississippi State, came to Starkville from Penn State, where he was offensive coordinator in 2016-17. Before that, Moorhead was head coach at FCS Fordham, his alma mater, from 2012-15. Prior to Fordham, Moorhead was an assistant at UConn (2009-11), Akron (2004-08) and Georgetown (2000-03).