Seemingly a favorite amongst a few former Mississippi State football players whose playing days were split between Sylvester Croom and Dan Mullen, former MSU player and graduate assistant Joe Judge’s name has come up more than a few times one message boards, social media, and blog posts.
It seems likely that Judge would love to be in Starkville, but this sort of hire seems similar to when South Carolina hired Shane Beamer and Arkansas hired Sam Pittman. Both Beamer and Pittman are intriguing personalities who seem to be great guys and deeply care for the programs they’re coaching at. They make fun speeches and are fun to be around when winning happens.
But both Beamer and Pittman have been under heavy scrutiny and on the hot seat at times this season. And Judge is certainly familiar to that.
While many will point to the fact that he’s worked with Nick Saban and Bill Belichick, the vast majority of Judge’s career has been as a special teams coach. At the college level, Judge spent three years as a GA in Starkville, one year as a linebackers coach at a DIII school in Birmingham, and three years as special teams coach at Alabama.
Judge hasn’t coached in the college ranks in 12 years. Since then, he’s been in the NFL, but mostly as a special teams coach. From 2012 to 2018, Judge worked with New England’s special teams. In 2019, Judge still worked with special teams, but also helped the Patriots at wide receivers.
Judge made his way to New York, where he went 10-23 in two years with the New York Giants. And nobody had fun in New York.
Judge might become a good head coach. He might win. But he’s so unproven as the leader of a program. Yes, he’s worked with some of the greatest coaches in the game, but Judge has never led a team successfully so far. The unproven nature of this sort of hire when proven coaches are available would make this choice underwhelming for MSU.
I’d like to see Judge lead a G5 program for a couple seasons before making a judgment on whether or not he can be a successful head coach in the SEC.