Per Borghetti, Narduzzi has hired Cignetti…
Frank Cignetti Jr. Returns to Pitt as Offensive Coordinator
PITTSBURGH—Pittsburgh native Frank Cignetti Jr., widely respected for his offensive schemes and mentorship of quarterbacks, has been named Pitt’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach by Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi.
Owning more than three decades of experience at both the collegiate and professional levels, this marks Cignetti’s third appointment at Pitt. He began his coaching career as a Panthers graduate assistant on Mike Gottfried’s staff in 1989. From 2009-10, Cignetti was Pitt’s offensive coordinator under Dave Wannstedt.
Cignetti joins Narduzzi’s staff after spending the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Boston College, where he completely revitalized the Eagles’ passing attack. Under his guidance, transfer Phil Jurkovec ranked among the ACC’s top quarterbacks as a first-year starter in 2020.
Cignetti’s pro-style schemes maximized the talents of tight end Hunter Long, who earned All-America honors and now plays for the Miami Dolphins, and wide receiver Zay Flowers, a two-time All-ACC honoree and one of the most prolific pass catchers in Boston College history.
In total, Cignetti brings to Pitt 32 years of accomplished coaching experience—21 in college and 11 in the National Football League. He has coordinated offenses at seven different schools and in the NFL. Cignetti has worked alongside future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning, dynamic receivers like Tavon Austin and Mohamed Sanu, as well as 1,000-yard backs in Dion Lewis, Todd Gurley and Jahvid Best.
“Having the opportunity to bring Frank back to Pitt is a tremendous coup for our entire program,” Narduzzi said. “He’s an extremely talented football coach and teacher. Frank has worked with some of the greatest quarterbacks in the game. He knows what it takes to build a championship-caliber offense. I really think Frank’s experience and knowledge will make us better in every positional room.
“Beyond football, Frank understands and values what Pitt and Pittsburgh are all about. This is home for him. His passion and energy are going to make an immediate connection with our team.”
“My family and I are extremely grateful to Coach Pat Narduzzi for the opportunity to return home to Pittsburgh and coach at Pitt, two places that have always remained very close to our hearts,” Cignetti said. “There are some incredibly special things happening at Pitt and it is exciting to become a part of it. I can’t wait to work with this great coaching staff and, most importantly, get to know and work with our players. I know everyone is wholly committed to building on last year’s ACC championship and continuing to elevate this proud program.”
Cignetti’s family has deep ties to Pitt and Western Pennsylvania football. His father, College Football Hall of Fame inductee Frank Sr., was a Pitt assistant from 1966-68 and later the head coach at both West Virginia (1976-79) and Indiana University of Pa. (1986-2005). His brother, Curt, was also a Pitt assistant (1983-84 and 1993-99) who now is the head coach at James Madison University.
During his most recent Pitt tenure, Cignetti’s influence figured prominently for the 2009 team, which finished 10-3 and ranked No. 15 in the final polls. The Panthers’ offensive arsenal included a 1,700-yard rusher in Dion Lewis and 1,000-yard receiver in Jon Baldwin. Moreover, quarterback Bill Stull ranked among the nation’s most efficient passers (No. 10 nationally, 150.6 rating), throwing for more than 2,600 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Lewis was named the Big East’s 2009 Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. Tight end Dorin Dickerson, who caught 10 touchdowns that season, earned first-team All-America honors. For his impact, Cignetti was a nominee for the prestigious Broyles Award.
Following Pitt, Cignetti was offensive coordinator for 2011 Pinstripe Bowl champion Rutgers, where under his watch wide receiver Mohamed Sanu compiled a school and Big East-record 115 receptions.
Cignetti would spend the next seven seasons in the NFL, working with the St. Louis Rams (2012-15), New York Giants (2016-17) and Green Bay Packers (2018).
Cignetti coached the Rams’ quarterbacks his initial three seasons before serving as offensive coordinator his final year. In 2015, he orchestrated one of the league’s top rushing offenses as Pro Bowler Todd Gurley gained 1,106 yards—third most in the NFL—and was named Rookie of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Overseeing the Rams’ quarterbacks, Cignetti helped Sam Bradford, when healthy, achieve some of the best production of his career. In 2012, Bradford enjoyed a breakthrough season as an NFL starter by throwing for 3,702 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was on a similar trajectory in 2013—ranking among the league leaders in passing yards, passing touchdowns and completions—before injury ended his season after seven games.
During Cignetti’s stint in New York, the Giants went 11-5 during the 2016 season as Eli Manning achieved the second-highest completion percentage (63%) of his career. Manning was one of only six NFL quarterbacks that season to compile at least 4,000 passing yards, 25 passing touchdowns and a 63.0 completion percentage.
As Green Bay’s quarterbacks coach in 2018, Cignetti worked with Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 4,442 yards and 25 touchdowns against only two interceptions. Rodgers’ yardage marked the second highest of his career while his INTs were his lowest as a starter.
Cignetti’s other NFL appointments came with the San Francisco 49ers (quarterbacks, 2007), New Orleans Saints (quarterbacks, 2000-01) and Kansas City Chiefs (quality control, 1999). While with the Saints, he helped Jeff Blake to a career-best passer rating and also helped Aaron Brooks produce some of the best statistics of his career in earning a Pro Bowl alternate selection.
Cignetti coordinated offenses at three additional FBS programs: California (2008), North Carolina (2006) and Fresno State (2002-05).
His 2004 Fresno State offense ranked among college football’s most explosive. The Bulldogs averaged 40.2 points—the fifth-highest scoring clip in the country—en route to a 9-3 record and No. 22 final national ranking.
The Bulldogs twice finished among the nation’s top 10 in scoring and third-down conversions during Cignetti’s tenure. They were also a perennial postseason team, advancing to four consecutive bowls, including victories over power conference foes Georgia Tech, UCLA and Virginia.
From 1990-98, Cignetti was on his father’s staff at IUP, where he was an all-conference safety before earning his bachelor’s degree in 1988. He served IUP as receivers, secondary and quarterbacks coach before elevating to offensive coordinator for his final two seasons. During his tenure, IUP twice advanced to the NCAA Division II national title game and earned a berth in the semifinals four times.
He and his wife, Ellen, have one son, Frankie, and three daughters, Alyssa, Gabrielle and Ella.
Pitt ticket information for the 2022 season is now available online or by calling (800) 643-7488. The Panthers host seven home games this fall, including attractive non-conference matchups against historic “Backyard Brawl” rival West Virginia and Southeastern Conference foe Tennessee in the second edition of the Johnny Majors Classic. ACC opponents visiting Heinz Field in 2022 are Duke, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Virginia Tech.