Joe Moorhead named top coaching candidate for vacant Washington State job

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A frequent topic of conversation for the Oregon Ducks this season has been not about the team on the field, but also about the coaches on the sidelines with the headset on as well.

As it turns out, a new rumor mill seems to be starting, with the head coaching job up in Pullman now opening up. After former Washington State Cougars coach Nick Rolovich was fired earlier this week because of his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine, a list of candidates to take over up in the Evergreen State has now been thrown together.

According to The Athletic, both Oregon’s Joe Moorhead and Joe Salav’a are reportedly interesting candidates. Here’s what they had to say about Moorhead’s prospects:

Oregon offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead has been one of the best assistants in the country this year, and his masterful game plan helped the Ducks win at Ohio State earlier this season. His importance was even more notable when Oregon lost to Stanford without him, as Moorhead was hospitalized with a non-COVID-19 medical situation. Moorhead went 14-12 as Mississippi State’s head coach from 2018 to 2019. (Coincidentally, he was replaced by Leach.) Depending on how Oregon’s season plays out, Moorhead could become a candidate for head coaching jobs.

It is important to note that Washington State is a rebuilding job, where it is tough to establish a hot recruiting trail due to the dominance in that aspect from the Oregon Ducks, as well as the waning shadow cast by the Washington Huskies.

Salav’a is an interesting name to be mentioned since we haven’t heard him pop up as a candidate for many top jobs before. However, his place in the Cougars organization last decade makes him worthy of the conversation, at the very least.

Oregon co-defensive coordinator/defensive line/associate head coach Joe Salave’a coached the Washington State defensive line from 2012 to 2016 with an assistant head coach title. At Oregon, he’s been known as a strong recruiter and helped land two five-star prospects, including No. 1 recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux. The Ducks defense improved its sack and TFL totals after Salave’a arrived. When Mario Cristobal was promoted to head coach, he promoted Salave’a to co-defensive coordinator and run game coordinator.

Not only have there been incredibly speculative rumors about Mario Cristobal potentially being a candidate for the USC, LSU, and Miami coaching jobs, but now Moorhead and Salav’a are up for debate as well. Don’t expect that to be an issue going forward this year, though. This coaching staff has proven to be good at ignoring outside noise and focusing on the task at hand.

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