After UMass fired head coach Charley Molnar in late December, Athletic Director John McCutcheon needed to bring in a coach that had experience, a proven track record of success, and could settle the storm that was created by the previous coach. He found the perfect fit in Mark Whipple.
During Whipple's first tenure as head coach of the Minutemen he compiled a record of 49-26, which included a NCAA Division I-AA (now the Football Championship Subdivision) National Championship in 1998; his first season in Amherst, Mass.. In his 16 years as a head coach he has a combined record of 121-59. Working as a quarterbacks coach in the NFL, he helped Ben Roethlisberger win a Super Bowl in his rookie year for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It is clear that Whipple is a proven winner and with a record of 2-22 since moving into the FBS, UMass is in desperate need of wins.
In the two years that Molnar was head coach of the Minutemen, he built a bad reputation with the alumni of the football program. A video of the winter conditioning techniques Molnar's staff used caused a huge stir within the UMass community. Former players began a petition for Molnar to stop mistreating players and improve the quality of the program. Although this was not the only reason for Molnar's firing, it played a major role as well as brought light to the things that were going on. As Whipple gets set to come in, he immediately fixes the bridges that were burnt between the alumni and the program. We all know that winning solves all problems and that's exactly what he did during his first stint with UMass. The alumni respect what he did during his time as the head coach making it a safe and smart hire by McCutcheon in that regard.
Great get for #UMass football to re-hire Mark Whipple as Head Coach. Has experience and credibility, program needs strong leader.— Will Gillespie (@sportaholic01) January 13, 2014
Congrats to @UMassFootball & @UMassAthletics on the hiring of Mark Whipple...new beginning for all...time for alums to show their support— Rene Ingoglia (@reneingoglia) January 13, 2014
Last season, UMass finished second to last in the MAC—only ahead of Miami—in scoring offense, total offense and passing offense. With a team that tends to be losing most of the game you would think that the Minutemen's passing numbers would be higher to try to get back in the game. This has not been the case for UMass as their offense has been difficult to watch.
Whipple is known for his high-powered offenses, and his 1998 offense broke almost all of the UMass records, including points scored (524), touchdowns (73), total yards (7,074), passing yards (4,050), completions (306) and first downs (354). As head coach at Brown, his 1997 team set an Ivy League and school record for total offense (474.3 yards per game). During his two years as offensive coordinator as the University of Miami, the team had over 5,000 yards of total offense, including 5,483 yards in 2010 which stands as third most in program history.
If you can't score you won't win games, and this offense should see quite an improvement in just one year.
He may not turn the program around overnight, but it is clear that Whipple is a perfect fit as the next head coach at UMass.