PITTSBURGH – After a year that saw quarterback Kenny Pickett break several records, Pitt offensive coordinator Mark Whipple has resigned just days after Pitt won the ACC championship game by a score of 45-21 over Wake Forest.
The news was first reported by John McGonigal of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and later confirmed by the university.
Whipple is not expected to coach in the Peach Bowl against Michigan State on Dec. 30.
While there had been speculation about his future with the Panthers as Pickett prepares to move on to the NFL, Whipple was on the road recruiting for Pitt as late as Monday night. Former Florida State quarterback Chubba Purdy tweeted out a photo of he and Whipple along with the announcement that Pitt had offered him a scholarship on Monday evening.
The Lincoln Journal Star reports Whipple is a candidate for the Nebraska offensive coordinator position, and it’s believed he interviewed for the job on Sunday. Nebraska coach Scott Frost fired offensive coordinator Matt Lubick along with three other assistants in early November.
Whipple was hired by coach Pat Narduzzi in early 2019 to replace Shawn Watson, who was dismissed after the 2018 season. Narduzzi liked what he had seen from Whipple’s passing attacks after coaching against Whipple over the years.
Under Whipple’s tutelage, Pickett and Pitt’s passing game reached new heights in 2021. Pickett became the first quarterback in Pitt history to throw for over 4,000 yards in a single season and set both a Pitt and ACC record by throwing for 42 touchdowns in a single season. Pickett earned ACC Player of the Year and ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors for his performance in 2021. On Tuesday morning, Pickett was announced as the winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given to the country’s top upperclassman quarterback. Pickett is also one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
The Panthers finished the regular season with the country’s third-ranked scoring offense averaging 43 points per game, behind only Ohio State and Western Kentucky.
“During his three seasons at Pitt, Mark Whipple was a great asset for our entire football program,” Narduzzi said in a statement. “He did a tremendous job transitioning us from a heavy run attack to one of the best passing games in the entire country. His great work with quarterbacks was obviously on full display, given the outstanding year Kenny Pickett has enjoyed.
“I am very grateful for Mark’s time in Pittsburgh, both personally as well as professionally, and I wish him and his family the very best moving forward.”
Whipple was a major factor in Pickett’s decision to return for a final season at Pitt.
“Coach Whipple is like family to me, and we developed a really good relationship over these years,” Pickett said during spring camp. “He was a huge influence on why I came back. If he wasn’t coming back here, I wouldn’t have come back.”
Prior to being hired at Pitt, Whipple had just finished his second stint as head coach at Massachusetts. Whipple had also served as head coach at both Brown and New Haven, and spent time as quarterbacks coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns. He was Ben Roethlisberger’s first quarterbacks’ coach in the NFL, as he spent 2004-06 with the Steelers.
AMANDA FILIPCIC-GODSEY is a freelance writer in Pittsburgh. She covers Pitt football and basketball for CNHI Pa. newspapers.