Mississippi State University Head Football Coach Joe Moorhead shakes hands with Rotarian Warren Housley after Monday's Starkville Rotary Club meeting. Moorhead spoke about the approaching football season and adjusting to life in the South. Photo by: Alex Holloway/Dispatch Staff
June 5, 2018 10:48:31 AM
After six months in Starkville, Mississippi State Head Football Coach Joe Moorhead said he's adjusting to southern living just fine.
Moorhead, who hails from Pennsylvania and moved to Starkville after being named the Bulldogs' new head coach in late November after the departure of former head coach Dan Mullen to the University of Florida, explained his growing comfort with southern culture during a visit to the Starkville Rotary Club.
For example, he demonstrated his knowledge of the proper use of "y'all" and how to accurately say that he was going to get his "picture made," rather than "taken."
"I actually took out some pictures of me from when I first got to Penn State and I was looking pretty svelte," he said. "Now I come down here with the Starkville Country Club fried chicken and the fact that you can get fried chicken and biscuits at every gas station in the state.
"I didn't know that was a thing," he added. "Usually you can get a diet Mountain Dew and a bag of chips, fill up, and you're on you're way. Now I can get a three piece and a side and it works out very well, but it hasn't helped my waistline."
In terms of football, Moorhead said things are progressing well. He said quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is recovering well from a broken ankle he suffered in the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss at the end of last year's season, and will be "full go" when fall practice starts.
Moorhead credited Mullen with building a strong foundation for the MSU football program. Now, he said, the challenge for MSU's football program is to go from good to great.
He said the program is setting its sights on championships, and encouraged his audience to set their own personal expectations high.
"I want you guys to understand, in our building and in our program, we are talking about winning a championship," Moorhead said. "We're not talking about competing. We're not talking about being the 'Little Engine that Could.' We're not talking about moral victories, because moral victories are for losers. We're talking about winning a championship.
"When y'all are at home and you're around the dinner table or you're done with church and you're getting in the car, it's OK to talk about Mississippi State winning a championship," he added. "Say it with pride. Say it with conviction. Say it with belief."
Moorhead also said he's come to understand the deep importance the Egg Bowl rivalry holds to fans across the state. He said everyone, from MSU President Mark Keenum to everyday people he meets out around town and around Mississippi, has made the game's importance abundantly clear.
He said the team will take things one game at a time, but promised to give everything they had when the Egg Bowl arrives in late November.
"It's like a hurdle race," he said. "You can't be focused on hurdle number 12 or you're gonna trip up on hurdle number one. When we get to that game, it'll be all of our focus -- all of our energy."
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