Joe Moorhead Named University of Akron Head Football Coach
Joe Moorhead, an inspirational leader of student-athletes and one of the most ingenious offensive minds in football, has been named the new head coach of The University of Akron football program, Director of Athletics Charles Guthrie announced today. His appointment is pending approval by The University of Akron Board of Trustees.
Moorhead will be formally introduced to Zips Nation at 10 a.m. ET Thursday, Dec. 9, in Akron. The press conference is not open to the public, but it will be streamed live at GoZips.com.
“We are committed to fielding a championship-caliber football program at The University of Akron and I'm confident we have found the right leader at the right time to make good on that promise," said University of Akron President Gary L. Miller. "I believe Zips fans have been patient long enough and I have no doubt Joe will deliver winning football consistently to our community, in our world-class stadium, and throughout the season whether at home or on the road. Most importantly, Joe will teach and motivate our student-athletes to be the best version of themselves in the classroom, on the field and out in the Akron community.”
A native of Pittsburgh, Moorhead is returning to the Midwest, where he was a member of the Zips coaching staff from 2004-08, including serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2006-2008.
“Joe is an incredible mentor to student-athletes on and off the field and we are so proud to welcome him back to The University of Akron as the leader of our football program,” said Guthrie. “Zips Nation get ready! Joe’s dynamic approach is sure to bring energy back to InfoCision Stadium but, at the heart of it, I know he will work relentlessly with his staff and our student-athletes to bring the joy of winning football back to Akron. He is passionate and focused on our collective goal to win MAC Championships. I can’t wait to introduce him to our student-athletes, University community, fans and the greater City of Akron.”
“I am humbled and honored to be selected as the next Head Football Coach at The University of Akron,” said Moorhead. “I would like to thank President Miller and Charles Guthrie for their incredible professionalism through the process. My family and I are very excited for this opportunity. We can’t wait to get back to a region of the country we consider home. Our plan for the future is simple: we’ll roll up our sleeves and get to work, diligently building a program of which the school, the City of Akron and the State of Ohio can be proud. Go Zips!”
Moorhead, who has spent the last two seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Oregon, has a proven track record of success over his nearly quarter century in coaching, including six seasons as a head coach at Mississippi State (2018-19) and Fordham University (2012-15).
Moorhead has been the play-caller for five programs that have won a conference championship, including Oregon (2020), Penn State (2016), Fordham (2014), Connecticut (2010) and Akron (2005).
Moorhead has played an integral role in player development during his coaching career, including mentoring 20 players who have been chosen in the previous five NFL drafts. Among those selections were four first-round picks, headlined by New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, who was named the Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2019.
Moorhead is currently in his second year guiding Oregon’s offensive efforts and is in his 14th season as a team’s primary offensive play-caller in the last 15 years. He has played a key role in the success of the 10th-rated Oregon football team this fall, a 10-3 squad that played in its third consecutive Pac-12 Championship Game versus No. 14 Utah on Friday, Dec. 3.
Moorhead has directed the Ducks’ offense to success this fall as Oregon ranks 33rd in the NCAA with 33.2 points per game, and 39th with 434.4 yards of total offense per contest. Moorhead’s unit has been even more impressive on the ground as the Ducks are rated 18th nationally with 214.0 rushing yards per tilt, including 34 rushing touchdowns, a total that ranks fifth in the NCAA in 2021.
Moorhead came to Oregon from Mississippi State, where he served as head coach during the 2018 and 2019 campaigns. He led the Bulldogs to back-to-back bowl appearances, the first Mississippi State head coach to do so in their first two seasons in program history, while also sparking the Bulldogs to a pair of triumphs over rival Ole Miss, claiming the Golden Egg Bowl trophy both seasons.
Prior to his time at Mississippi State, Moorhead spent a pair of seasons at Penn State (2016-17), where the Nittany Lion offense averaged 39.3 points per game, including scoring 30 or more points 21 times, a mark that represents the third-highest total in the NCAA from 2016-17. He was honored as National Offensive Coordinator of the Year in each of the two seasons in State College.
Moorhead spent four seasons as the head coach at Fordham, compiling a 38-13 record from 2012-15. After taking over a program that was 1-10 in 2011, Moorhead led the Rams to a 12-2 record, the best season in program history in 2013 and the Patriot League title in 2014.
Fordham reached the FCS playoffs the last three seasons under his leadership while compiling a 32-8 record. The Rams reached the highest ranking in program history, No. 5 in 2013, and the highest final in program history, No. 9 in 2013 and 2014, while recording the first two wins over FBS schools in program history.
In 2013, Moorhead earned AFCA Regional Co-Coach of the Year and Patriot League Coach of the Year honors and was also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award and the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year.
Moorhead served as the assistant head coach, pass game and recruiting coordinator on Akron’s Mid-American Conference championship team in 2005 when the Zips claimed the MAC Eastern Division title and then edged Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game, 31-30, to secure the school’s first-ever bowl appearance.
Moorhead is a graduate of Fordham University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1996. A team captain and three-year starter at quarterback, he garnered second-team All-Patriot League accolades as a senior en route to ranking 13th nationally in total offense.
Moorhead and his wife, Jennifer, have three children: daughter Kyra, and sons Mason and Donovan.