Back on Thursday, word leaked out that the Mississippi State football program was strongly considering a change at the head coaching position, and ultimately decided to hire Joe Moorhead the following morning. After just two years on the job, Moorhead led the Bulldogs to a 14-12 overall record and back-to-back bowl losses in the Outback Bowl in 2018 and Music City Bowl in 2019.
Now, Mississippi State is looking for a replacement, and the immediate options at the top of the list have been interesting ones.
To get the process going, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported this afternoon that former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik interviewed for the head coaching position before ultimately removing himself as a candidate.
SOURCE: Former Auburn HC Gene Chizik interviewed with Miss. State for its head coaching vacancy on Saturday. The next morning Chizik removed himself as a candidate… Wouldn't be surprised if Chizik returns to coaching, just has to be an ideal fit.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 6, 2020
With Chizik’s name off the board, the next name being discussed for the opening is none other than Joe Judge, the special teams/wide receivers coach of the New England Patriots.
FootballScoop reported on Sunday afternoon – less than 24 hours after New England’s loss to the Tennessee Titans in the NFL Playoffs – that Judge is expected to interview for the Mississippi State job, followed by another interview with the New York Giants.
The Patriots loss last night opens the door for Joe Judge to interview with his alma mater Mississippi State.
Oh, and the New York Giants too. https://t.co/48nMJOT2gK
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) January 5, 2020
Feldman also reported that Judge has emerged as a top candidate for the Mississippi State job, the school where he played and served on the staff.
“The 37-year-old played at Mississippi State and then spent three years on Sylvester Croom’s staff,” Feldman wrote. “His wife was a soccer player for the Bulldogs as well. Judge also spent three years on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama before spending much of the past decade working for Bill Belichick. I’m hearing he has always REALLY wanted this job and that he will have the support of some key folks at Mississippi State.”
Outside of Judge, Dean Straka of 247Sports is reporting that Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is also “gaining traction” as a top option.
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reported similar news, adding that Judge and Grantham are the co-favorites in the school’s coaching search.
Top #MississippiState candidates are #Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge and #Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Judge played for Bulldogs and Grantham served as DC there under Dan Mullen. School also has talked to Gene Chizik and #Army coach Jeff Monken.
— Adam Rittenberg (@ESPNRittenberg) January 6, 2020
As Rittenberg reported, Army coach Jeff Monken joins Chizik as the coaches in previous discussion with the program.
Louisiana-Lafayette head coach Billy Napier was also seen as a potential fit, though he made it clear this weekend that he has no intention of taking the Mississippi State job.
“It’s fair to say we’ve made a decision that I’m not a candidate for that job. I just want to get that out of the way,” Napier said, per Creg Stephenson of AL.com.
Who do you hope ends up in Starkville?
And more importantly, who actually wants to volunteer to live in Starkville?