Mississippi State has fired head coach Joe Moorhead, the university announced Friday.
"In consultation with President Mark Keenum and after a thorough review and evaluation of all aspects of our football program, I have decided that a change in leadership is in the best interest of our team and university," athletic director John Cohen said in a statement. "I want to thank Coach Moorhead for the hard work he has done with our football program. I wish Joe and his family success in the future."
Cohen announced that a national search is underway to find a new coach for the Bulldogs and associate head coach Tony Hughes will serve as interim head coach.
Moorhead lasted only 26 games in Starkville. Mississippi State hired him in November 2017 after coach Dan Mullen left to go to Florida. The team went 8–5 and become bowl eligible to play Iowa in the Outback Bowl during his debut season. However, Mississippi State went 6–7 in 2019. The Bulldogs struggled early in the season and lost four straight conference games before snapping their skid with a 54–24 win over Arkansas on Nov. 2.
"First and foremost, I wanted to express my sincere appreciation to Dr. Keenum and Mr. Cohen for providing me the wonderful opportunity to be the [at] head coach Mississippi State university," Moorhead said in a statement.
"My family and I will always cherish our time in Starkville. Part of us will always bleed Maroon and White. We wish the program nothing but the best moving forward."
Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reported on Thursday night that school officials had been in deep discussion about Moorhead's future since the Bulldogs' 38–28 loss to Louisville in the Music City Bowl in Nashville. Mississippi State planned to keep Moorhead after a 21-20 win over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night. However, that plan changed within the past month due to off-the-field issues and the bowl loss, per Dellenger.
Before joining Mississippi State, Moorhead spent two seasons as offensive coordinator at Penn State and helped the Nittany Lions go 22–5. Prior to that, Moorhead was 38–13 in four seasons as head coach at Fordham.