Nebraska football: Huskers hire Pitt's Mark Whipple as offensive coordinator, Raiola O-line coach

mark whipple
Posted at 9:35 AM, Dec 08, 2021

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — The Nebraska football program has hired Pitt's Mark Whipple as the Huskers' new offensive coordinator & also hired Donovan Raiola as NU's new offensive line coach.

From Nebraska Media Relations:

Nebraska Head Coach Scott Frost announced Wednesday the addition of two assistants to his offensive staff. Mark Whipple will serve as the Huskers’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while Donovan Raiola will serve as the offensive line coach on Frost’s Nebraska staff. The hirings are pending the completion of a University of Nebraska background check.

“We are excited to add Mark Whipple and Donovan Raiola to our offensive coaching staff,” Frost said. “Mark has four decades of coaching experience and brings a long record of offensive success to Nebraska. Donovan is an outstanding offensive line coach who has a history of winning as both a player and coach. I am confident their addition will have a positive impact on the young men in our program and the success of our offense.”

Whipple comes to Nebraska after three seasons in the same role at Pitt, where he directed an explosive Panther offense that helped the school to its first ACC Championship in 2021, and its first league title in any conference since 2010. The Panthers will finish the season in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, the school’s first trip to a New Year’s Six Bowl since the 2004 campaign.

Whipple’s Pitt offense ranked among the nation’s most prolific units in 2021. The Panthers ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring offense (43.0 ppg, 3rd), total offense (502.9 ypg, 5th), passing offense (350.2 ypg, 6th) and passing efficiency (8th). Pitt scored more than 40 points eight times in 2021 and converted 88 percent of its red-zone trips into scores.

Individually, the Panther offense featured two of the nation’s top skill players. Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett thrived under Whipple’s coaching. A Heisman finalist, Pickett threw for 4,319 yards, ranked third nationally with 42 touchdown passes and was ninth in the nation in passing efficiency. Receiver Jordan Addison led the nation with 17 receiving touchdowns, while ranking third in the country with 1,479 receiving yards.

“The opportunity to coach at a school with the history and tradition of Nebraska is special,” Whipple said. “Coach Frost has a great offensive mind, and I look forward to working together with him and our staff to best position our players for success. I can’t wait to get to Lincoln and represent Husker Football.”

The three years at Pitt represents the most recent chapter in Whipple’s outstanding coaching career. The New York native owns more than four decades of coaching experience, including 21 years as a college head coach and six years of experience in the National Football League.

Whipple spent the previous five seasons (2014-18) as the head coach at UMass, his second stint as head coach at the school after also guiding the Minutemen from 1998 to 2003. Overall, Whipple owns a school record 65 wins at UMass and guided the school to a Division I-AA (now FCS) title in 1998, and to three NCAA playoff appearances.

Whipple also served as the head coach at New Haven (1988-1993) and Brown (1994-97). His New Haven teams went 48-17 with five top-20 rankings in Division II, and he guided Brown to 24 wins in four seasons. Overall, Whipple owns a 137-102 record in 21 seasons as a college head coach.

Whipple’s winning pedigree also extends to the NFL. He spent three seasons as the quarterbacks coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2004 to 2006, during Ben Roethlisberger’s first three NFL seasons. In 2004, Roethlisberger was named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and in 2005 Whipple helped the Steelers capture the Super Bowl.

Whipple also worked as an offensive assistant with the Eagles in 2008, as part of Andy Reid’s coaching staff, and spent two seasons as the Browns quarterbacks coach in 2011 and 2012.

Raiola comes to the Husker program after spending the past four seasons with the Chicago Bears as an assistant offensive line coach. In addition to his time in the National Football League, Raiola also brings four years of collegiate coaching experience to the Husker program.

Raiola has helped the Bears to two playoff appearances since joining the staff in 2018. In his first season in Chicago, the Bears posted a 12-4 record and captured the NFC North Division title. The Bears offensive line allowed just 33 sacks, tied for the third fewest in the NFC, while Chicago averaged 26.3 points per game, the fourth-best average in the NFC.

In the 2020 season, Raiola worked with offensive line coach Juan Castillo to tutor an offensive line that featured six different starting combinations. Raiola assisted in helping a pair of rookie undrafted free agents develop into starters late in the season, as the Bears reached the NFC playoffs. The Bears currently rank ninth in the NFL in rushing in the 2021 season.

“I am humbled to lead the offensive line at the University of Nebraska,” Raiola said. “I understand the responsibility of coaching the Pipeline and the history of offensive line excellence at Nebraska. We will work tirelessly to add to that tradition.”

Raiola spent the 2017 season as the offensive line coach at Aurora University in Illinois and was an offensive graduate assistant at Notre Dame in 2015 and 2016, helping develop six Fighting Irish offensive lineman who are now in the NFL. Raiola was an offensive intern at Hawaii in 2014. He spent two seasons (2012-13) at Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama, where he coached the offensive line and organized clinics for offensive linemen throughout the state of Hawaii.

Raiola spent parts of five seasons playing in the NFL, signing contracts with the Rams, Steelers, Seahawks, Cardinals, Bears and Buccaneers. Raiola started 39 games at center for Wisconsin and was a three-time honorable-mention All-Big Ten selection from 2003 to 2005. He helped the Badgers to top-20 finishes in each of his final two seasons.

Raiola is the younger brother of Dominic Raiola, an All-America center and Rimington Trophy winner for the Huskers. Dominic Raiola played 14 seasons in the National Football League with the Detroit Lions.

Mark Whipple Information Hometown: Tarrytown, N.Y. Wife: Brenda
Children: Spencer, Austin
Alma Mater: Brown (1979)

Coaching Experience
1980—St. Lawrence (assistant coach)
1981-82—Union (offensive coordinator)
1983—Brown (wide receivers)
1984—Arizona Wranglers, USFL (quarterbacks assistant)
1986-87—New Hampshire (offensive coordinator)
1988-93—New Haven (head coach)
1994-97—Brown (head coach)
1998-2003—Massachusetts (head coach)
2004-06—Pittsburgh Steelers (quarterbacks)
2008—Philadelphia Eagles (offensive assistant)
2009-10—Miami (assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks)
2011-12—Cleveland Browns (quarterbacks)
2014-18—Massachusetts (head coach)
2019-21—Pitt (offensive coordinator, quarterbacks)
2022—Nebraska (offensive coordinator, quarterbacks)

Donovan Raiola Information  Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii Alma Mater: Wisconsin (2005)

Playing Experience2002-05—Wisconsin Coaching Experience
2012-13—Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama (offensive line)
2014—Hawaii (offensive intern)
2015-16—Notre Dame (offensive graduate assistant)
2017—Aurora (Ill.) University (offensive line)
2018-21—Chicago Bears (assistant offensive line)
2022—Nebraska (offensive line)