Sources tell FootballScoop Mississippi State officials began speaking with potential candidates (and / or their representatives) over the past 24-48 hours seeking to gauge interest before making the ultimate decision to part ways with Joe Moorhead.
At a press conference today AD John Cohen noted the search is already underway adding that they plan to use a search firm (for background info and logistics only) and that he and University President Dr. Mark Keenum will make the choice and the hire.
Louisiana Lafayette head coach Billy Napier was hoping to be considered for the Ole Miss job but never got look, sources tell FootballScoop. It is not known if Billy would be as excited by the possibility of coaching at Mississippi State, but it should be noted that Louisiana-Lafayette did issue a release yesterday noting the they had agreed to an extension with Napier. The timing of that release was no coincidence. It would be a bad look for Napier to accept a new job just days after agreeing to an extension on the home front, but stranger things have happened.
In addition to Napier, Mark Hudspeth and Todd Grantham are candidates for the opening at Mississippi State, sources told FootballScoop on Friday. Hudspeth is in his first season as the head coach at Austin Peay, where he went 11-4, won a share of the Ohio Valley Conference championship and took the Governors to their first FCS playoff appearance. Grantham, who served as defensive coordinator at Mississippi State in Dan Mullen's final season there, is currently serving in the same capacity with Mullen at Florida.
Hudspeth is best known for his 2011-17 run as the head coach at Louisiana-Lafayette. From 2011-14, Hudspeth led the Ragin' Cajuns to four straight 9-4 campaigns capped by four straight New Orleans Bowl victories, but ULL later had numerous wins vacated for NCAA violations. He was fired after the 2017 season.
A Louisville, Miss., native, Hudspeth worked under former Bulldogs coaches Dan Mullen and Moorhead. Having gone 66-21 as the head coach at Division II North Alabama from 2002-08, Hudspeth was an original member of Mullen's staff, serving as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator from 2009-10 until he took the ULL job in 2011. He then returned to Starkville as State's assistant head coach and tight ends coach on Moorhead's first Bulldog staff before leaving again to take the Austin Peay job.
Grantham, who is from and played at Virginia Tech, coached defensive line in the NFL much of the 2000s. He returned to college football as defensive coordinator at Georgia in 2010. In 2014 he took over as defensive coordinator at Louisville where he served until coming to Mississippi State for the 2017 season.
Earlier today we wrote about the intrigue of Army head coach Jeff Monken as candidate.
Other potential candidates include: Bill Clark, Gene Chizik, Larry Fedora, Todd Monken, Skip Holtz and Kevin Steele.
Cohen didn't give any clue as to how quickly this search would progress; but industry sources tell FootballScoop this one should be done rather quickly with one adding, "You don't fire your guy without having a very good feel for who your next head coach will be."
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.
Update> Brett McMurphy is now reporting Billy Napier won't be part of the process.