The Book of Moorhead: Fordham’s Rise to the Top

Head Coach Joe Moorhead has transformed the Rams from a one win team into an FCS contender. Photo courtesy of Vinny Dusovic

For the first time in school history, the Fordham Rams will host a home FCS playoff game. The Maroon and White fell one game short of perfection, losing to Lafayette College on Nov 16th. This unexpected loss dropped the Rams to 12th in the Sports Network FCS College Football Poll. Although disappointing, Fordham’s 11-1 marks significant improvement from the abysmal 2011 season and the mediocre 2012 season.

These improvements are no accident.  After the horrendous 2011 season, Fordham fired head coach Tom Masella and hired FCRH Class of 1995 graduate, Joe Moorhead, in December of 2011.  Moorhead, the former Fordham Rams starting quarterback, had previously coached at Georgetown, Akron, and UConn. Immediately, the team saw a huge turnaround, going from 1-10 in 2011 to 6-5 in 2012.

This year’s improvements have really been quite astounding, especially within the short time frame in which they’ve occurred.

“Last year’s [2012] team laid the foundation for our program through their hard work and dedication,” says Coach Moorhead.  “We won six games and came within eight points in our three league losses. This year’s team picked up where last year’s team left off and have taken it to the next level.”

In the fall of 2010, Fordham announced that it would start offering football scholarships. Although this made the team ineligible for Patriot League championships, it did allow the school to attract higher caliber players.

“The ability to offer full scholarships has allowed us to recruit more successfully against other full scholarship teams and consequently bring better student-athletes into the program,” Coach Moorhead said. “In the old need-based model, if a student-athlete’s family needed to pay money out of pocket to attend Fordham, and they were offered a full scholarship to another school, the player and his family would choose the full scholarship 99% of the time.”

Currently, Fordham football offers 60 scholarships per year, allowing the team to attract players who would have previously chosen a scholarship from another school.

After his freshman season at the University of Connecticut, quarterback Michael Nebrich decided to leave UConn and bring his skills to Fordham. Immediately, his impact was felt when he became just the second quarterback in school history to rush for 100 yards in a game.  Unfortunately, Nebrich suffered a season-ending injury, in 2012, against Cornell. This season, he has been an unstoppable force, throwing for 28 touchdowns and rushing for 8.

“Due to the nature of the position he plays, combined with the way he has performed, I would say Michael Nebrich is the biggest impact player on this year’s team,” responds Coach Moorhead.  “He [Nebrich] has shown the ability to make plays with his arm and his feet while limiting negative plays.”

An improved football team can work wonders for a school.

“I think it creates a tremendous sense of school pride among current students and alumni,” said Coach Moorhead. “You can look no further than our last two home games, both of which were sell-outs, to see that a winning football team can galvanize a university community in a very positive manner.”

Kat Towne, a Fordham junior and student employee in the Fordham Athletic Department, agrees with Coach Moorhead’s assertions.

“If our football team does well, then obviously more kids will come to the games and maybe there’ll be more of a sense of unity on campus.”

Another Fordham junior, Caroline Bulger, agrees with Towne and even believes that school spirit amongst students, has already started to rise on the Rose Hill campus.

“Yeah, I definitely have [witnessed more school spirit].  I know [that] I have friends that had never gone to a football game, until this year, because they are doing well [now].”

The Rams take on the Sacred Heart Pioneers this Saturday afternoon at 1pm at Jack Coffey Field.


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