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Chronicling New BC OC John McNulty’s Coaching History

Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

John McNulty is the new Boston College offensive coordinator, sources told Eagle Action. ESPN’s Pete Thamel was the first to report the deal being finalized.

McNulty served as Notre Dame’s tight ends coach the past two seasons. He was part of a Fighting Irish staff that oversaw the program’s second College Football Playoff appearance. And he mentored the likes of Tommy Tremble—a third-round pick of the Carolina Panthers—and Michael Mayer, a future NFLer who was third among all tight ends nationally in 2021 with 71 receptions.

But McNulty also has 15 years of NFL coaching experience, and he had two stints as Rutgers’ OC. Before getting into what this means for the Eagles, it’s time to examine how McNulty got here.

Coaching Career

1991-94: Michigan (Grad Assistant)

1995-97: UConn (Wide Receivers)

1998-99: Jacksonville Jaguars (Offensive Quality Control)

2000-02: Jacksonville Jaguars (Wide Receivers)2003: Dallas Cowboys (Wide Receivers)

2004-05: Rutgers (Wide Receivers)

2006: Rutgers (Assistant OC/QBs)2007-08: Rutgers (OC/QBs)

2009-11: Arizona Cardinals (Wide Receivers)

2012: Arizona Cardinals (QBs)

2013: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (QBs)

2014-15: Tennessee Titans (QBs)

2016-17: San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (Tight Ends)

2018-19: Rutgers (OC/QBs)

2019: Penn State (Offensive Analyst)

2020-21: Notre Dame (Tight Ends)

How He Got Here

McNulty walked onto the Penn State football team as a safety and ended up being part of two Nittany Lion bowl teams. The Scranton, Pennsylvania, native then began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan, where he spent four seasons. His first two years in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines made the Rose Bowl, and Desmond Howard took home the Heisman Trophy in 1991.

After three years with UConn as a wide receivers coach, McNulty made his first jump to the NFL. He became part of Tom Coughlin’s staff in Jacksonville: first as an offensive quality control coach, then as a wide receivers coach. He was on board for the Jaguars’ run to the AFC Championship in 1999.

Following a one-year stay as the Dallas Cowboys’ wide receivers coach, McNulty returned to the collegiate ranks to join Greg Schiano at Rutgers. He was in Piscataway, New Jersey, for five years. McNulty started as a wide receivers coach but then was promoted to assistant offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2006. That season, he shared the OC duties with Craig Ver Steeg, who has since been on staff with the Baltimore Ravens for more than a decade.

Rutgers went 11-2, finished No. 12 in the AP Poll and won its first bowl game in school history. The next year, McNulty had the play-calling keys.

He made the most of the opportunity, guiding the Scarlet Knights to a prolific season in which they became the first FBS program to boast a 3,000-yard passer (Mike Teel), a 2,000-yard rusher (Ray Rice) and two 1,000-yard receivers (Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood). At the time, Rutgers set single-season school records for scoring (426 points), first down (294) and total offense (5,841 yards).

The Scarlet Knights went 8-5 that year. They posted the same record in 2008 with a third consecutive bowl victory. Rutgers started the season 1-5 but righted the ship to win the last seven games of the year. The Scarlet Knights averaged 17.5 points in the first six games and 38.9 over their final seven contests.

It was after that season that McNulty went back to the NFL, where he spent four seasons in Arizona. He was the Cardinals’ wide receivers coach from 2009-11. Larry Fitzgerald was a Pro Bowler all three seasons McNulty was his position coach, and Anquan Boldin piled up 84 catches for 1,024 yards and four touchdowns in McNulty’s first year on the job.

McNulty coached Arizona's quarterbacks in 2012 and then, in 2013, continued his run as a QBs coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was there that he crossed paths with current BC head coach Jeff Hafley, who was the Bucs’ defensive backs coach. And where both of them reunited with Schiano. McNulty played a role in Mike Glennon’s promising inaugural season, for which he was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team.

McNulty was tasked with helping another rookie quarterback establish himself a few years later during the second and final leg of his stint with the Tennessee Titans. Mariota didn’t put up eye-popping stats in 2015, yet he did log the most passing yards and touchdowns as well as completions by a Titans first-year signal caller in just 12 games after taking over for Zach Mettenberger. Tennessee was just 3-13 that year.

John McNulty works with Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans' offense in 2015 (Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports).
John McNulty works with Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans' offense in 2015 (Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports).

McNulty was with the Chargers the next two years during their transition from San Diego to Los Angeles and their transition from Antonio Gates to Hunter Henry.

Ahead of the 2018 season, McNulty left L.A. for Rutgers. He teamed up with then-Scarlet Knights head coach Chris Ash to be their offensive coordinator. McNulty’s second go-around in Piscataway wasn’t pretty, though. Rutgers ranked last in the FBS in 2018 in points per game (13.5).

McNulty rolled with true freshman quarterback Art Sitkwowski—the No. 17 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2018—and it backfired. Sitkowski registered a horrific 4:18 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and the Scarlet Knights limped to a 1-11 record, including an 0-9 mark in Big Ten play.

Ash and McNulty lasted just four games the next season before being axed. By that point, Rutgers was 1-3 overall and 0-2 against Big Ten opponents. The Scarlet Knights had lost their last three games by a combined 112-16. That included a 52-0 beatdown at Michigan.

That same year, McNulty joined Penn State as an offensive analyst before getting the job as Notre Dame’s tight ends coach leading up to the 2020 campaign.

McNulty will be the second BC offensive coordinator of the Hafley era. He’s replacing Frank Cignetti Jr., who was hired away by Pittsburgh this offseason.

BC is coming off an injury-riddled 2021 season where it dipped from 68th (27.8 points per game) to 93rd (24.7) in scoring. The Eagles were without starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec for half the year, though, because of a season-threatening fracture to his throwing hand.

McNulty will have Jurkovec and another NFL prospect in wide receiver Zay Flowers, both of whom decided to come back for the 2022 season.