Pitt’s been without an offensive coordinator for about 10 days, and it sounds like Pitt has already found a replacement.
His name was first reported as a target by Jim Hammett of Panther-Lair, and our own Mike Wilson discussed him as an option last week. If this report is accurate, this is by far the fastest Pat Narduzzi has hired an offensive coordinator.
Mark Whipple most recently has been the head coach of UMass, who was in their 3rd year of FBS football this past season. He’s 61 and his resume is long and varied.
His age will stick out to a lot of people, and that’s probably the biggest negative myself and others probably have against him. It’s always nice to have the young and up and comer, but candidates who are young but have good experience are pretty hard to find. The benefit of age is Whipple has been a TON of places, and this won’t even be his first time coaching for Pittsburgh team. Here’s his resume up to this point:
1980 St. Lawrence (Assistant)
1981–1982 Union (OC)
1983 Brown (WR)
1984 Arizona Wranglers (OQC/QB)
1986–1987 New Hampshire (OC)
1988–1993 New Haven (HC)
1994–1997 Brown (HC)
1998–2003 UMass (HC)
2004–2006 Pittsburgh Steelers (QB)
2008 Philadelphia Eagles (assistant)
2009–2010 Miami (FL) (AHC/OC/QB)
2011–2012 Cleveland Browns (QB)
2014–2018 UMass (HC)
Point being, Whipple has been around a lot. Whipple is pretty well regarded as running a fairly pass heavy and aggressive offense.
This past year, UMass ranked #34 in yards per game, #14 in passing yards per game, #102 in rushing yards per game, and #36 in points per game. The obvious flaw there is the rushing attack, but Pitt is built for the run already, so he may be able to incorporate what Pitt already has into his offense and balance it a bit. UMass also hasn’t had a winning season since Whipple got there, however, this was their first 3 years in FBS football and it’s not surprising there was some difficulty the first few years.
His loan tenure as a Power 5 offensive coordinator was for Miami during Randy Shannon’s last two years. If you remember, Miami eviscerated Dave Wannstedt’s Panthers 31-3 in his last year at the beginning of the season. Here’s a quote from a Miami fan turnondruid on Reddit:
Excellent game script. He adjusted well and had a pretty good balance in play calling. Haven’t heard or seen anything about him since he left, but I remember we were sad to see him go, as he was a highlight of our staff during that era (he was eventually fired along with the entire staff, though). He was aggressive and ran high powered offenses before he got to Miami where he slowed it down a bit, but not in a negative way (if that makes sense).
In his last year at Miami, they were #31 in yards per game, 43 in passing yards per game, #30 in rushing yards per game, and #66 in points per game.
For the national perspective, Bruce Feldman commented that he felt it was a good hire as well.
If you wanted to take a look at his offense from this year versus a Power 5 opponent in Mississippi State, this video does a good job.
Mark Whipple did have a bit of a situation earlier this year when he was suspended for using the word “rape” in the context of describing his disagreement with an official. However, I’m sure Pitt did their homework and asked him about the issue. Heather Lyke’s approval of the hire is also a good sign that they feel comfortable with Whipple despite this issue happening last season.
Pat Narduzzi still has one position open with the wide receivers, and based on the ages of the rest of his offensive staff, getting a young guy for that spot would be a smart move. Most of his offensive assistants are older and seasoned guys, and having a young recruiter at an exciting skill position would benefit Pitt well in my opinion.