Mississippi State hires Penn State OC Joe Moorhead to be head coach

Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who helped guide the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten title last season with his record-setting offense, has been named the new coach at Mississippi State, the university announced Wednesday.

"It's a tremendous honor to be a Mississippi State Bulldog," Moorhead said in a statement. "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."

Moorhead, 44, will be formally introduced as the head coach on Thursday. He replaces former Bulldogs coach Dan Mullen, who was hired as Florida's new head coach on Sunday.

In two seasons as Penn State's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Moorhead directed one of the country's most prolific offenses. Last season, the Nittany Lions set school records for total offense (6,056 yards) and passing yards (3,650), and tied the mark for points scored (526). Penn State's scoring output increased by 14.4 points from 2015 to 2016, the fourth-highest jump among Power 5 teams.

"Joe is a winner, a man of integrity with a blue-collar work ethic and an ability to motivate others that our student-athletes will gravitate to," Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen said. "His innovative offensive philosophy is a perfect fit for our program and will keep us on a path to competing for championships. ...

"He will demand excellence on and off the field and maximize the resources we have to continue to be successful in the SEC."

Before Moorhead, Penn State averaged 348.4 offensive yards per game in 2015 -- 105th nationally. Under Moorhead, Penn State improved to 432.6 yards per game in 2016 (49th nationally) and is currently averaging 453.3 yards per game in 2017 (28th nationally).

"We couldn't be happier for Joe Moorhead and his family," Penn State head coach James Franklin said. "This is a tremendous opportunity for him to return to being a head coach and continue to move forward in his career. 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 offensive student-athletes. He has been a great mentor and coach to our student-athletes and friend to me and our staff. We wish Joe nothing but success at Mississippi State."

Prior to helping Franklin revitalize Penn State's program, Moorhead spent four seasons as head coach at Fordham, his alma mater. The Pittsburgh native inherited a program that went 1-10 in 2012 and guided it to a winning record in each of the next four seasons.

The Rams went 11-3 in 2014 and won a Patriot League title. He had a 38-13 record in four seasons at Fordham, and his teams reached the FCS playoffs in each of his last three seasons.

Moorhead previously worked as Connecticut's offensive coordinator and also worked as an assistant at Akron and Georgetown.

The Bulldogs reportedly interviewed Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and contacted Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables before deciding to hire Moorhead.

Mullen guided Mississippi State to a 69-46 record and eight straight bowl games in nine seasons.