He came to State College two years ago with the hope and promise of revitalizing a sputtering, under-performing offense.
He left last December having accomplished just that: a successful, Big-Ten-title-winning offensive coordinator who was ultimately courted to be the next head coach at Mississippi State.
Joe Moorhead brought a whiplash offense to Penn State that helped the Nittany Lions finish in the top-10 of college football for a second consecutive season.
He had great things to say about his time in Happy Valley and was an enthusiastic observer of Penn State's 35-28 Fiesta Bowl win over Washington - even as he immediately became a very popular man in his new place of residence in the SEC.
I felt there was more we needed to learn about Moorhead's time in Penn State. I have a journalism background (I swear!), so I did what modern journalists do: I DM’ed Moorhead a couple of questions. And he responded.
We didn’t discuss whether the playoff should be expanded to eight teams (it should!), the intricacies of the RPO mesh point (I don't know anything about football!) or how out-of-conference scheduling truly impacts CFP standings (whatever!).
Nope, I wanted to know things like his favorite place to eat while he was in State College. The Q&A was slightly edited for clarity.
Q: Favorite non-gameday memory of being at Penn State?
A: Summer baseball and vacation time with family.
Man, that sounds good, doesn’t it?
Q: Best place to eat in the State College area?
A: Duffy’s Tavern.
Duffy’s Boalsburg Tavern in, yes, Boalsburg is an intriguing choice. It’s nearly five-star rated on Google, which is difficult to achieve because people take pleasure in dishing out one-star reviews for having to park their own car or some other frivolous reason. I’ve never had the pleasure of dining at Duffy’s, but the Yankee Jambalaya appears to be absolutely decadent.
Q: Your proudest on-field accomplishment while with the Nittany Lions?
A: Big Ten Championship Game and the 2017 White-Out win vs. Michigan.
Hard to argue with both of those answers. The Big Ten Championship was a rollercoaster of emotions and furious offensive output, as the Nittany Lions memorably came back to stun Wisconsin. WHEEL ROUTE! WIZARD!
— Roar Lions Roar (@RLRblog) December 4, 2016
Then there was the revenge factor of last season’s Michigan game. Questions headed into that prime-time clash focused on Penn State’s offensive line handling the Wolverines defensive line, led by potential NFL first-round pick Maurice Hurst and monster masher Rashan Gary. Well, the o-line did handle itself just fine and Penn State scalded Jim Harbaugh’s team, 42-13. Payback was had — and this memorable Saquon Barkley run via a shrewd Moorhead play call (it was the first time they unveiled it in 2017) was a centerpiece:
Saquon Barkley, everyone. Im still laughing. pic.twitter.com/CkIcdWi0QE
— Roar Lions Roar (@RLRblog) October 21, 2017
Finally, I had to finish with a self-serving question. That’s what these kinds of sites and blogs and social media and personal interactions are all about. Throughout the season, Penn State’s offensive play cards featured a picture of our Tuddies T-shirt. It’s something we’re silly proud of because it’s a dumb, celebratory word that inexplicably found its way into the lexicon of the Penn State program over the last two seasons. I mean, we did basically goad Moorhead into saying it on camera during preseason media day in 2016. But, whatever. Had to ask.
Q: Who put the Tuddies shirt on one of the sideline play cards? (We are dying to know)
A: Offensive staff … [Graduate assistants] did the actual work of finding images and getting them over to print shop.
There you have it. Shout out to Moorhead, Josh Gattis, Ricky Rahne and the offensive staff! (Inside info: the Moorhead family has a couple of these shirts, too.)
— Roar Lions Roar (@RLRblog) November 6, 2016
Thanks to Moorhead for taking a few minutes of his time to answer some silly questions from a terrible writer on an illogically relevant Penn State sports site. Best of luck in Stark Vegas, coach!