Community reacts to Moorhead's arrival

Mississippi State University’s new head football coach Joe Moorhead greets fans as after his plane touched down in Starkville. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN)

Fans and local officials welcomed new Mississippi State football coach Joe Moorhead with open arms on Wednesday.

Moorhead arrived in Starkville on an afternoon flight into Bryan Field Airport with many cowbell ringing supporters on hand.

People lined the fence around the airport and Moorhead went around to shake as many hands as he could, signed autographs and had photos taken.

It was truly a warm reception and Moorhead took it all in.

"The city is very excited to welcome a new resident to our Bulldog family," Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill said. "We look forward to showing Coach Moorhead some of our Starkville and Starkvegas hospitality. I have no doubt that he will fall In love with Mississippi’s College Town."

One of those present at the airport was sophomore student Thomas Moore and he likes the potential the former Penn State offensive coordinator brings to the Bulldogs.

“He’s such an offensive-oriented mind," Moore said. "That’s what Mississippi State needs right now.”

Moorhead replaces Dan Mullen, who spent nine seasons at MSU before taking the same job at Florida over the weekend.

The Bulldogs seemed prepared for Mullen's pending departure and it only took athletic director John Cohen a couple of days to find Moorhead and hire him.

Steve Phillips, who has been an avid follower of Starkville sports and has worked with the Starkville Parks and Starkville Baseball Association, was impressed with how Cohen went about getting Moorhead.
“(Cohen) did a good job of keeping it quiet, but at the same time getting the right man,” Phillips said. “It looks like we got a very experienced coach.”

Moorhead has definitely been around the block a few times. He has been a head coach at his alma mater Fordham and he's had other stops at Connecticut, Akron, Georgetown and Pittsburgh during his career.

As disappointed as some fans were to see Mullen leave, they seemed encouraged with the way Moorhead made time for them on Wednesday at the airport.

“Anytime you bring a new energy in it helps because there sometimes becomes some complacency," MSU fan Hobie Hobart said. "I’m excited just to have a new start and a new guy coming in. I like what I read about him being an offensive genius and all that kind of stuff. He’s an offensive mind. I know Mullen was too, but this is exciting just because it’s a new start."

Moorhead becomes the 33rd head coach in Mississippi State history and he will be introduced at a 10 a.m. press conference today at the Leo Seal Football Complex. The public is invited to attend.
Mike Clark can remember many head coaches of the Bulldogs over the years. He has supported MSU athletics since 1960 and the hiring of Moorhead stands as one of the best moves the school has made in years in his mind.

“He is the best candidate I’ve seen us hire since we hired Jackie Sherrill,” Clark sad. “We have something to offer and this man realizes it. I believe he will go further than we have any time in the past.”

Greater Starkville Development Partnership President and CEO Scott Maynard has also watched the Bulldogs and coaches come and go.

He welcomes another new era to MSU.

“I am very excited to begin a new football chapter with coach Moorhead," Maynard said. "He will be the seventh coach I have attended games under. I don’t think there has ever been more excitement about a new coach and the potential for the future.”

(Editor's Note: Starkville Daily News editor Ryan Phillips and Mississippi State beat writer Joel Coleman contributed to this story.)