Penn State OC Joe Moorhead Named Mississippi State Head Coach

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 3:  Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Beaver Stadium on September 3, 2016 in State College, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Mississippi State Bulldogs turned to the Big Ten to fill their vacant head coach position.

Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead was officially named the school's head coach Wednesday after Dan Mullen left to become the head coach of the Florida Gators.

Moorhead said in the program release:

"It's a tremendous honor to be a Mississippi State Bulldog. I am thrilled to take the reins of an SEC program that has been as successful as this one has the past decade. 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. I am grateful to John Cohen and Dr. Mark Keenum for giving me this opportunity, and I am proud to be your coach."

College football reporter Brett McMurphy first reported the hire Tuesday.

Penn State hired Moorhead before the 2016 season after he went 38-13 in four years as the head coach of Fordham in the FCS. He was a sought-after candidate on the coaching market, as Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated reported he was "expected to be in the mix for the UCF opening should current head coach Scott Frost...leave."

The Nittany Lions went 11-3 last season, won the Big Ten and reached the Rose Bowl. They then went 10-2 this season with running back Saquon Barkley serving as a Heisman Trophy candidate throughout the campaign.

Moorhead's offense finished seventh in the country in points per game (41.6) in 2017, as Barkley, quarterback Trace McSorley, wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton and tight end Mike Gesicki thrived in the system.

Feldman noted: "Moorhead's system offers a unique blend of run-pass option looks with a West Coast passing scheme that produces big shots downfield and has proven to be one of the most dynamic offenses in college football. Since he's been with the Nittany Lions, only Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Louisville have produced more plays of 20 yards or longer."

Moorhead will take over a solid Bulldogs program that is coming off an 8-4 season. Mississippi State was 6-7 in 2016 but 9-4 in 2015 and 10-3 in 2014.

Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was already looking forward to the future Tuesday:

He and the rest of the team will now have a coach known for his dynamic offense as they look to challenge the likes of Alabama, Auburn and LSU in the SEC West.