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Oregon offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead hired as Akron football head coach

Moorhead, who formerly was on staff for Akron from 2004-2008, returns to the Rubber City to try and bring the Zips back to prominence.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Texas A&M John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

The Akron Zips have reportedly found their next head coach, looking towards the West Coast to find an old friend in Joe Moorhead, who is currently Oregon’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

The news was first reported by Fox Sports’ Bruce Feldman on Wednesday afternoon, and later confirmed by the university via press release.

“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.”

Moorhead has been the offensive coordinator with Oregon since Jan. 2020, helping lead the Ducks to an average of 434.4 total yards per game, 6.36 yards per play and 33.2 points per game on average in the 2021 season thus far, with 51 touchdowns scored.

Moorhead has generally found success wherever he goes, and 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).

The Pennsylvania native was last a head coach with Mississippi State, compiling a 14-12 record over two seasons before being let go by the university at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season.

Moorhead also had a head coaching stop at the FCS level with Fordham, finishing 38-13 (11-1 Patroit League), with one league title (2014) and three-straight playoff appearances (2013-2015), finishing the season ranked over said seasons.

Moorhead made his name as the offensive coordinator at Penn State from 2016-18 under James Franklin, heading one of the nation’s most effective offenses in the process. In his first season, the Nittany Lions offense improved by nearly 100 yards per game, led by QB Trace McSorley, RB Saquon Barkley and TE Mike Gesiki, who would all go on to future pro careers.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected as the next Head Football Coach at The University of Akron,” Moorhead said via press release Saturday morning. “I would like to thank President Miller and [athletic director] 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!”

This will be Moorhead’s second stop in Akron, having formerly occupied various roles in a stint under JD Brookhart from 2004-2008, including assistant head coach, passing game coordinator, wide receivers coach, and quarterbacks coach, prior to accepting the offensive coordinator job at UConn in 2009.

He will be inheriting a team stripped to its core parts, as Akron finished 2-10 on the season in 2021, with just one league win against Bowling Green. The offense ranked 10th in the league in total offense, while the Zips defense ranked 11th.

There are some promising parts to build from, especially in running back Jonzel Norills and wide receiver Konata Mumpfield on offense and defensive back Charles Amankwaa and linebacker Jeslord Boatang. But all said, the rest of the roster is shallow, as Akron has averaged between ninth and 10th in recruiting classes from 2018-2020 and has had a hard time retaining transfer talent, with several departures prior to the 2021 season.

Moorhead is set to be formally introduced to media on Thursday.