Penn State OC Joe Moorhead reportedly to be named Mississippi State head coach

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Penn State OC Joe Moorhead reportedly to be named Mississippi State head coach

Mississippi State hired a Florida offensive coordinator with no college head coaching experience to come lead its football program.

That was nine years ago, his name was Dan Mullen. It turned out be a risk that worked out extremely well for the Bulldogs.

Now Mississippi State has gone back to a similar blueprint. The Bulldogs will hire Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead as their next head coach, according to a person with direct knowledge of the decision.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because a deal was still being finalized.

Mullen had a 69-46 record and lifted the Bulldogs from the Southeastern Conference basement to a respected -- and often successful -- program in the Western Division.

He left the folks in Starkville, Mississippi, returning to Florida as the Gators new head coach. The move announced Sunday wasn't totally unexpected -- Mullen's name has been mentioned in connection with other jobs during the past several offseasons.

"In anticipation of this development, MSU has already begun the process of an orderly and expeditious transition to new and exciting leadership for our football program," Mississippi State President Mark E. Keenum said in a statement on Sunday.

The new hire happened quickly.

Before coming to Penn State, Moorhead was head coach at FCS Fordham University in New York. He went 38-13 at his alma mater with three playoff appearances in four years. The Rams have made only two other playoff appearances since moving up to Division I in 1989.

While Moorhead has the head coaching experience that Mullen lacked, this is still his first head coaching job at the FBS level.

The 44-year-old from Pittsburgh also has been offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Connecticut and Akron.

Penn State coach James Franklin hired Moorhead after the 2015 season to bring his creative spread offense to State College, and it has helped the Nittany Lions take off. Penn State is 21-5 the last two seasons with Moorhead directing the offense.

Mullen was one of the most successful football coaches in program history. His 69 wins were the second-most at Mississippi State and he led the Bulldogs to a program-record eight straight bowl games.

His best season was in 2014, when Mississippi State was the No. 1 team in the country for five straight weeks. The Bulldogs, who were led by current Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, finished with a 10-3 record that season.

The good news for the Bulldogs is the job should be more attractive than it's even been.

"We return a tremendous roster of young talent," Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen said when announcing Mullen's departure. "We seek someone who will continue us on our path to competing for championships and developing our student-athletes both on and off the field."

No. 24 Mississippi State has an 8-4 record this season, including a 4-4 mark in the SEC. If the Bulldogs win their bowl game, it'll be the third time in four seasons that they've won nine games.

Cohen wasn't exaggerating; the roster appears stocked for 2018: Starting quarterback Nick Fitzgerald suffered a gruesome dislocated ankle in the Egg Bowl last week, but has already had surgery and is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for next season. Only a handful of the main contributors this season were seniors.

Mississippi State has also improved its facilities in recent years. In 2014, Davis Wade Stadium received a $75 million upgrade that increased seating by several thousand and also included more premium seating.

The main downside to the job is the Bulldogs reside in the SEC's Western Division and the other six programs are flush with cash and other resources. But Mullen proved that Mississippi State can be a factor -- and the Bulldogs are looking for someone with the ability to do the same. 

Penn State adds to its bragging rights over Temple

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Penn State adds to its bragging rights over Temple


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Josh Reaves had his second career double-double, Shep Garner hit two 3-pointers in the final three minutes and Penn State overcame an 11-point second-half deficit to beat Temple 63-57 on Wednesday night in the first round of the NIT.

Reaves shot 7 of 10 from the field, including a career-high tying four 3-pointers, and finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Tony Carr missed 10 consecutive field-goal attempts before scoring his first points of the game on a jumper that pulled Penn State within four with 6:20 to play. That sparked a 16-2 run to give the Nittany Lions a 62-54 lead with 16 seconds left.

Reaves and Garner hit back-to-back 3s to make it 54-all before John Harrar's layup with 1:52 remaining gave Penn State its first lead since 4-3. The Owls made just 1 of 9 from the field and committed three turnovers during the span.

Shizz Alston Jr. led Temple (17-16), which led for more than 35 minutes, with 15 points and Josh Brown added 14.

Carr and Garner -- who came in averaging 19.9 and 11.1 points per game, respectively -- combined to score 10 on 3-of-19 shooting for the Nittany Lions (22-13).

The Owls made just 5 of 14 free throws while Penn State hit 20 of 30.

It was the 93rd meeting between the schools, which are located less than 200 miles apart, but the first since 2011. The Nittany Lions snapped a seven-game skid in the series, dating to Dec. 9, 2000.

Penn State's NCAA tournament hopes severely dented

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Penn State's NCAA tournament hopes severely dented


NEW YORK — Purdue threw a little of everything at Penn State star Tony Carr, the Big Ten's leading scorer. Bigger guys. Smaller ones. Switches and some double teams.

Carr managed only 12 points in a woeful shooting game, and No. 8 Purdue separated from Penn State in the second half of a 78-70 victory Saturday that put the Boilermakers in the Big Ten Tournament championship game for the second time in three seasons.

Third-seeded Purdue (28-5) faces No. 5 Michigan, which will try to repeat as tournament champs on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Purdue frustrated Carr and held him to 4-of-18 shooting. The sophomore faced an array of defenders, including the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Nojel Eastern, 5-10 P.J. Thompson, 6-4 Dakota Mathias, 6-8 Vincent Edwards and 6-1 Carsen Edwards.

"When you have a good player like that it takes more than one guy because he's able to make shots and make plays over guys," Vincent Edwards said. "They just did a good job of taking up that space and being able to force him into tough shots."

Shep Garner led the Nittany Lions (21-12) with a career-high 33 points and the senior set a school record with 129 career points in the Big Ten Tournament.

The Boilermakers will be making their third appearance in the Big Ten championship since the tournament started in 1998. Their one championship came in 2009.

Against Penn State, Purdue used a 12-2 run the middle of the second half to build a 15-point lead. Carsen Edwards led the way, spinning through the lane for a driving layup and making a 3 from up top that made the score 59-44 with 9:15 left. He finished with 27 points and shot 6 of 9 from 3-point range after scoring 26 on Friday against Rutgers.

"It's a consistency," guard Dakota Mathias said of Edwards. "He's being very efficient, too."

Edwards made back-to-back 3s to make it 74-56 with 3:41 left and Purdue was on its way to play for a title.

Isaac Haas, the 7-2 center, added 17 points and seven rebounds for Purdue.

With Carr struggling, Penn State could not keep up. He picked up a third foul in the second half, a push off call that caused Penn State coach Pat Chambers to draw a technical.

"I think they were very physical," Chambers said. "Obviously that's why I felt like I needed to get T'd up, my first T in a long, long time."

Big Picture
Penn State: The Nittany Lions had a chance to work their way into the conversation for an NCAA at-large bid by beating Purdue, but now Penn State seems like a long shot at best. Chambers is still hopefully.

"Well, I'm an optimist," he said. "We have NCAA Tournament talent."

Purdue: The Boilermakers hit a rough patch losing three straight close games in early February to Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin, but an argument can be made that they have been the Big Ten's most consistent team this season.

"We had an opportunity to win the Big Ten regular season. We kind of gave that away," said Thompson, one of four senior starters. "But we still had a goal of winning a Big Ten championship on our list before the season started and we put ourselves in position to be able to do that tomorrow."

Purdue does most everything well, except rebound. A night after giving up 17 offensive boards to Rutgers, the Boilermakers allowed 16 rebounds to Penn State.

Shep Shooter
Garner went 4 for 5 from 3-point range, including a four-point play, to carry Penn State in the first half. The Nittany Lions led much of the way, but Edwards made a 3 for Purdue with 2 seconds left in the half to send the Boilermakers to the break ahead 33-31.

Up Next
Penn State: An NIT bid is likely coming the Nittany Lions way, though the big question beyond March is whether Carr returns for another season or heads to the NBA draft.

Purdue: The Boilermakers swept the Wolverines in two games decided by a combined five points.

"Just a really skilled offensive team," Carsen Edwards said. "They have a lot of options. For us it's going to come down to defense and getting stops."