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Frank Cignetti Jr. accepts Pitt OC job

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Frank Cignetti Jr. has accepted Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt’s offer to become the Panthers’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, a Pitt source confirmed.

Cignetti will be formally introduced today at a news conference at 3:45 p.m. at Pitt’s Duratz Athletic Complex on the South Side.

Cignetti, 43, spent the past season in the same role at the University of California. He will replace Matt Cavanaugh, who left earlier this month after four seasons to become quarterbacks coach for the N.Y. Jets.

From the outset, Wannstedt said the Panthers would continue to run a pro-style offense and, like Cavanaugh, Cignetti is expected to direct a West Coast system with an emphasis on the running game. Cal averaged 186.2 rushing yards per game last season to rank 29th in the NCAA, and boasted the nation’s No. 3 rusher in Jahvid Best and 79th in Shane Vereen.

Perhaps most important, Cignetti also has a reputation for developing quarterbacks and being an energetic recruiter – both areas of concern at Pitt under Cavanaugh, whose signal-callers struggled the past two seasons.

Prior to joining Jeff Tedford’s staff at Cal, Cignetti was offensive coordinator at North Carolina (2006) and Fresno State (’02-05), quarterbacks coach with the San Francisco 49ers (’07) and New Orleans Saints (’00-01) and an offensive quality control coach with the Kansas City Chiefs (1999). His began his career as a Pitt graduate assistant under Mike Gottfried in ’89 before working at Indiana (Pa.) University from ’90-98.

A Pittsburgh native and graduate of Indiana High School and IUP, Cignetti has strong college football family ties to Western Pennsylvania. His father, Frank Sr., is a former Pitt assistant in the late 1960s and West Virginia head coach in the late ’70s who became a highly successful coach at IUP. His brother, Curt, was a Pitt assistant in the ’90s under Johnny Majors and Walt Harris, and is now the receivers coach/recruiting coordinator at Alabama.

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