Report: Cignetti to Be Hired as Pitt's OC
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Report: Cignetti to Be Hired as Pitt's OC

Photo courtesy of BC Football
Photo courtesy of BC Football

Boston College offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr., a Pittsburgh native and former Pitt OC from 2009-10, is expected to be hired away by the Panthers to fill their offensive coordinator vacancy, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports.

The deal is to be completed in the near future, per Thamel.

Cignetti will replace Mark Whipple, who moved on to become Nebraska's offensive coordinator after Pitt's ACC championship. Whipple held the position for three years, mentoring Heisman trophy finalist Kenny Pickett and guiding a Panthers offense that ranked third nationally in scoring and sixth in passing this season.

Pitt will return Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison, who was fourth in the FBS in receiving yards (1,593) and tied for first in receiving touchdowns (17) this season. Narduzzi also reeled in former Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Kedon Slovis from the transfer portal. The USC quarterback has two years of eligibility and will look to restore his first-round prospects with the Panthers.

BC's coaching staff had remained intact through head coach Jeff Hafley's first two years with the program. Last year, defensive backs coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim was offered a Power Five defensive coordinator job but turned it down and was instead promoted to associate head coach at BC. Offensive line coach Matt Applebaum had an offer from an NFL team yet stayed in Chestnut Hill.

Hafley, a former Pitt staffer himself, brought on Cignetti not only as his OC but also as his quarterbacks coach. Cignetti played a big role in wooing fellow Yinzer Phil Jurkovec from the transfer portal to the Heights.

Cignetti and Jurkovec have a good relationship, and Jurkovec credits his much of his growth as a signal caller to Cignetti's coaching. With Jurkovec at the helm, Cignetti oversaw a revolutionary BC passing game in 2020.

After being predictably run-oriented during the Steve Addazio era, the Eagles had the third-best aerial attack in the ACC in the first year of Cignetti's system, and Jurkovec went over the 300-yard barrier four times. Before that season, the only Eagles quarterback to do that even once in the previous seven years was Anthony Brown Jr. against Wake Forest in 2018.

BC, uncharacteristically however, struggled on the ground with Cignetti calling plays. The Eagles shifted to a wide-zone run/blocking scheme, and the Eagles finished 118th in rushing offense. BC improved on the ground in 2021, in part thanks to the emergence of Pat Garwo III—the 19th Eagle all time to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a season.

The Eagles took a significant step back through the air, though. That was largely due to Jurkovec's season-threatening fracture to his throwing hand that he suffered Week 2 at UMass. It cost him six games and his full grip strength the rest of the year.

But Cignetti's play-calling wasn't fruitful, either. He remained committed to the deep ball, well after longtime backup Dennis Grosel showed the inability to connect downfield this season. With Grosel still under center, he eventually pivoted to a quick passing game only to turn back to a one-dimensional rushing attack later in games with little run/pass variance on first down—like at Louisville when the Eagles had just six first-down pass attempts.

BC averaged 16.4 points per game in ACC play, the second fewest in the league (only Duke was worse). And the Eagles converted a mere 31.8% of third downs against conference opponents.

Before taking the BC OC job, Cignetti was in the NFL for seven years, mostly as a quarterbacks coach. He was promoted to OC when he was with the then-St. Louis Rams but occupied that position for only 12 games.

Cignetti enjoyed success during his two-year stint at Pitt in the late 2000s. His first season, quarterback Bill Stull posted a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 21:8, and playmakers Dion Lewis, Dorin Dickerson and Jonathan Baldwin combined for 36 touchdowns.

More than a decade later, it appears as if Cignetti will get a second homecoming.