Could Rutgers poach a sitting SEC coach for its open vacancy? That's what the school is hoping to do, according to NJ.com. In a report from Keith Sargeant, Mississippi State's Joe Moorhead has "emerged as a top candidate" at Rutgers two weeks into the search. The report cites "persons with knowledge of the decision-making" process behind the hire.
But if Moorhead is Rutgers' top choice, would the coach of an SEC school leave for a program that has gone 20-47 since joining the Big Ten in 2014? As strange as that might be to consider on the surface, it would make some sense. Before taking the Mississippi State job last season, Moorhead had spent the entirety of his coaching career in the Northeast and Rust Belt. A Pittsburgh native, Moorhead began his coaching career at Pitt. He then had stops at Georgetown, Akron and UConn before becoming the head coach at his alma mater, Fordham. He went on to Penn State where he was offensive coordinator for two seasons before leaving to take the Mississippi State job.
Now, in the middle of his second season, Moorhead is 11-8 at Mississippi State, and 5-6 in the SEC. The Bulldogs lost to Tennessee last weekend, and during his weekly press conference, Moorhead's remarks raised a few eyebrows.
"Coaching in the SEC for about a year-and-a-half now in a lot of ways has been a humbling experience," Moorhead said. "I don't think you get to this point where I am without a certain level of success, and of confidence, but this game and the SEC, it has a way of keeping you honest."
With LSU coming to town this week, and games against Texas A&M and Alabama remaining on the schedule, there's no guarantee the Bulldogs will be able to climb out of the 1-2 hole they've dug themselves in conference play. It's also within the realm of possibility that Mississippi State could miss a bowl game. Were that to happen, there's a decent chance Moorhead would enter the 2020 season on the hot seat. If that's the case, a chance to return to a region he's more familiar with and still coach in a Power Five conference could prove appealing to Moorhead.
Even if it's Rutgers.