Joe Moorhead Is Thriving In Southern Culture And Is Changing Mississippi State Football’s Culture

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 30: Mark McLaurin #41 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs returns the second of his three interceptions in the game in the fourth quarter of the TaxSlayer Bowl against the Louisville Cardinals at EverBank Field on December 30, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bulldogs won 31-27. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 30: Mark McLaurin #41 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs returns the second of his three interceptions in the game in the fourth quarter of the TaxSlayer Bowl against the Louisville Cardinals at EverBank Field on December 30, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bulldogs won 31-27. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Joe Moorhead is embracing southern culture in Starkville, Mississippi while wanting to change the culture in the Mississippi State football program

Joe Moorhead is the Mississippi State football team’s newest head coach. The Bulldogs have a remarkably high ceiling with him at the helm and there’s a ton that Mississippi State can accomplish in even his first season in Starkville.

Joe Moorhead is embracing that. He’s also embracing MSU and southern culture.

Everyone that pays much attention to college football knows that Moorhead isn’t from the state of Mississippi. He’s also not from the south. Nope, the most recent head coach of Mississippi State football is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He played his college career out at Fordham University, a private college in New York with its home stadium being a football field in the Bronx with a seating capacity of 7,000.

And, up until now, the entirety of Joe Moorhead’s coaching career has been up north.

Culturally, there’s a pretty big change when you move away from all of that and down to Mississippi. But, Moorhead is fine with that. And, at the moment, the only big cultural adjustment that Moorhead wants to see is the one that is present with his Mississippi State football team.

You see, Joe Moorhead seems to truly like the south. He seems to truly love Mississippi State. But, he’s ready to see the Bulldogs embrace a new culture. He wants Mississippi State fans, year in and year out, to start expecting their team to compete at the highest level possible.

Joe Moorhead is embracing the south culturally. He’s embracing Mississippi State. But, he doesn’t want things with the football program to stay at their status quo. He wants to see them changed remarkably in the best ways possible.

He’s wrapping his food in bacon and wants Mississippi State football to be the best

At the Road Dawgs event hosted by the Houston, Texas area alumni chapter last week, Joe Moorhead and Vic Schaefer both spoke to the crowd that was present. Both gave incredibly engaging speeches in their time there.

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And, well, both embraced a familial tone with the ears that were listening in eagerly. As part of that familial tone and in that speech from Joe Moorhead was an abundance of anecdotes and examples to connect with everyone in the room.

One such way was Moorhead discussing how much he loves southern food, wrapping things in bacon, and the abundance of fried chicken at local gas stations. Which, if we’re being honest, this is by far one of the best things that southern gas stations can offer. That and boiled peanuts.

But, back on topic for a moment, Moorhead also did a great job of embracing former Mississippi State football head coach Jackie Sherrill. For Moorhead, Sherrill meant more than just being the winningest coach in Mississippi State history. Jackie Sherrill is someone that Joe Moorhead, as a child, enjoyed celebrating.

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That’ll happen when you’re from Pittsburgh and are six years old when Pitt wins the Fiesta Bowl. It happens when you’re from Pittsburgh and you’re seven years old when Pitt wins the Gator Bowl. This happens when you’re from Pittsburgh and Pitt wins the Sugar Bowl.

For the bulk of Joe Moorhead’s life in the 1970’s, which is the first decade that he appeared on this earth by the way, Jackie Sherrill was nothing more than a phenomenal head coach that could win against anyone at any given time with Moorhead’s hometown college football team.

And Joe Moorhead got to embrace Jackie Sherrill at the Road Dawgs event. This wasn’t as a fan. This was as the newest head coach of the football program that Sherrill helped take to new heights. This happened as the man in charge of taking the Bulldogs to brand new heights that even Sherrill’s teams never achieved.

“Attitude reflectes leadership”

Joe Moorhead is the leader of the Mississippi State football program. There’s no doubt about that. There’s no questioning that. He’s in charge. His assistant coaches follow him. The players follow them.

And, well, fans follow the players and coaches on twitter.

But, more than that, Joe Moorhead sets the tone for the culture of Mississippi State’s football program. He bears the most responsibility for the team’s success or failure. He dictates the way that the players are handled by his assistant coaches. Joe Moorhead oversees everything there.

And, in some ways, that spills over to the fans and alumni. You know, those folks following the players and coaches on twitter.

How Moorhead sets the tone for the Mississippi State football team will also show up in how he engages fans and the media. And, on top of that, the results on the field will, to a degree, influence how fans behave and act with regards to MSU football. If Moorhead shows confidence, fans will likely follow suit. If the team wins, and wins at a high level, then fans will be inclined to celebrate that.

Joe Moorhead is well aware of the impact that he can have as the head coach of the Bulldogs. That matters. He’s cognizant of how fans will react to a win or a loss and how his demeanor can sway things.

But, it looks like he’s certainly planning on using his popularity and position of power for a lot of good. That’s on and off the field. From everything that he’s said so far, he intends to find ways to help the local community in Starkville and help the state of Mississippi beyond that.

In all of this, Joe Moorhead is seemingly wanting the culture in Starkville to be an uplifting and positive one. And he intends for his team to be at the forefront of that effort.

And, to add to that, he also wants fans to believe in what his team can do on the field. Moorhead probably wants his team to fully buy into these notions too.

More than likely, they already have.

“When players leave here, they will have a championship ring on one hand and a diploma in the other”

I will say that my note taking skills weren’t on par that evening. Why do I mention that here? Well, I’m not totally sure whether or not Moorhead said “a championship ring” or “championship rings,” as in plural.

Regardless, Moorhead is ready for his team to get out on the field and to prove what they can do. He’s probably also ready to prove that he can win against the best teams in all of college football in the Southeastern Conference. And in all of this, Moorhead is doing everything he can to avoid shortcuts.

Last Wednesday, Joe Moorhead made a point to put emphasis on several things. Two of them stood out to me a bit. One point of emphasis for him and for this program was for his players to all graduate from Mississippi State University. The other was for Mississippi State to start having winning records when it comes to SEC competition.

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As the head coach, and the leader of this football program, Moorhead feels an obligation and a duty to his players. He put it this way: “As a coach, educator, and parent, we’re doing something wrong if they’re not getting a degree.” There’s a ton of value in that. The average length of a professional football career in the NFL isn’t all that long. Moorhead is aware of that. He’s also aware of how few players actually make it into the league.

With the other point, Moorhead also shows that he’s aware of how much success, or lack thereof, Mississippi State football has experienced historically. In the past 10 seasons, from 2008 to 2017, the Mississippi State football team has only had one year where the Bulldogs won more conference games than they lost. That’s back in 2014. There were several years where MSU went 4-4 in SEC play, but only one winning record present.

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Moorhead knows that Mullen did well with graduating players and with winning in the Southeastern Conference, but Joe Moorhead is striving for better here. He’s striving for a championship standard in everything attached to his Mississippi State football program.