Meet a Candidate: Mark Whipple

This is the second part of my look at the candidates for the Syracuse Head Coaching job. A full rundown of the candidates can be found here.

Now we take a look at a candidate who has already interviewed with Daryl Gross for the position, former UMass head coach and current NFL assistant Mark Whipple.

Mark Whipple

240-whipple-01280812008-present Philadelphia Eagles (Offensive Assistant Coach)
2004-2006 Pittsburgh Steelers (Quarterbacks Coach)
1998-2003 Massachusetts (Head Coach: 49-25)
1994-1997 Brown (Head Coach: 24-16)
1988-1993 New Haven (Head Coach: 48-18)
1986-1987 New Hampshire (Offensive Coordinator)
1984 Arizona Wranglers(USFL) (Offensive Quality Control)
1983 Brown (Wide Receivers)
1981-1982 Union College (Offensive Coordinator)
1980 St. Lawrence (Assistant Coach)
1976-1978 Brown (Quarterbacks Coach)

Who is he?: Whipple is currently an offensive assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles. He was previously the quarterbacks coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers, helping tutor Ben Roethlisberger and winning a Super Bowl in 2005.

Before his tenure in the NFL, Whipple achieved success at D-1AA Massachusetts, compiling a 49-25 record and winning the 1998 National Championship. He also was a head coach at his alma matter, Brown University, where he had a 24-16 record in four seasons.

Whipple was viewed as a possible replacement for Tom O’Brien at Boston College in 2006, but lost out on that job to Jeff Jagodzinski.

What does he bring to the job?: Whipple is one of the most experienced candidates that has been mentioned. He combines the biggest selling point of Greg Robinson (NFL success), with college head coaching experience.

His teams at UMass were always competitive, and his experience in the Northeast should allow him to successfully recruit the area. He is a talented offensive mind and tutor, helping develop Ben Roethlisberger into one of the NFL’s best young quarterbacks.

Why wouldn’t he be a good fit?: While he does have great experience at the college level, he hasn’t been in the recruiting game for five years. There is no question that could hurt him in getting a quick start building his first recruiting class, and building that first class is a key to success for a coach taking over a program in the shape of ours.

There is also the question of whether or not Whipple can succeed at the D1 level. He has never been an assistant or head coach collegiately above 1AA, which raises one question: Why not? Why did no schools ever pull the trigger to bring him on board, including BC, where he was considered the front runner?

What are his chances?: Probably better than we think. Whipple brings great experience and recruiting ties with him, plus has pro pedigree. He is a good offensive coach and would hopefully be able to turn around our woeful offense.

While not having D1 experience is a red flag, there have been many successful coaches to make that leap, including Jim Tressel at Ohio State and Paul Johnson of Georgia Tech (via Navy). If we get spurned by the higher profile head coaches (Tuberville, Gill, Petersen, Holtz) and the big name coordinators (Mullens, Locksley, Addazio), Whipple’s name will appear more and more in conjunction with Syracuse. The longer the job remains open, the more likely a candidate he becomes.

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