Who Is Noel Mazzone?

Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt is expected to name the Panthers' new offensive coordinator as early as Monday, and according to a source veteran coach Noel Mazzone is expected to be that guy in what turned out to be a trade with the New York Jets in the National Football League.

Noel Mazzone was cut loose as the Jets' wide receivers coach when the staff was fired after this past season, and former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh was hired by the Jets as their quarterbacks coach. So, it wasn't a straight-up trade, but it worked out for both.

A nearly 30-year veteran at the NFL and NCAA levels primarily as a mentor for quarterbacks and offensive coordinator, Mazzone will be 52 March 21, two days after spring football practice begins. So, if he is officially named this week, Mazzone will have a month to get acclimated and then hit the ground running.

That last part includes the optimum words, because the Panthers reportedly aren't expected to alter their pro-style offense that features a power running game to set up a passing attack. According to a source, Wannstedt wanted to hire someone who had both NFL and college coaching experience as a coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Mazzone was a quarterback at New Mexico from 1975-79 and remained there for two years as a graduate assistant coach. He spent four years at Colorado State as the quarterbacks and wideouts coach and also coached quarterbacks at TCU and Minnesota before getting his first promotion.

Mazzone was the offensive coordinator at Mississippi (1995-98), Auburn (1999-2001), Oregon State (2002) and North Carolina State (2003-05) before spending the past three seasons with the Jets. So, he certainly has the experience, which everyone knows Wannstedt covets in these positions. The same held true with Phil Bennett's hire as defensive coordinator last year.

Former TCU and Minnesota head coach Jim Wacker gave Mazzone his initial coordinator jobs. He also worked for Tommy Tuberville at Ole Miss and eventually followed him to Auburn. However, Tuberville replaced Mazzone with Bobby Petrino after the 2001 season. So, he took a job as Dennis Erickson's offensive coordinator at Oregon State for the 2002 season.

When Erickson left for the NFL the following year, Mazzone remained in college and joined Chuck Amato at North Carolina State. In 2006, Mazzone took his first position in the NFL when new head coach Eric Mangini hired him as wide receivers coach for the New York Jets. Mangini was fired by the Jets following the 2008 season, and Mazzone's contract with the Jets was allowed to expire.

In his final season at Mississippi, the Rebels averaged 23.3 points, 173.1 yards rushing, 216.5 yards passing and 389.6 total yards per game. During his tenure at Auburn, Mazzone coached All-SEC quarterback Ben Leard, who led the Tigers to an SEC Western Division championship with a 9-4 record in 2000.

Under Mazzone, Auburn's offense produced two SEC Players of the Year: Rudi Johnson, SEC Player of the Year, 2000 and Ronney Daniels, SEC Freshman of the Year, 1999. Despite losing over 92 percent of its total offense from the 2000 season, Auburn still finished 2001 as SEC Co-Western Division champs.

The 2002 Oregon State squad with Mazzone as the OC was pummeled by Pitt, 38-13, in the Insight Bowl to finish 8-5. That team was led by quarterback Derek Anderson (3,313 yards passing), running back Steven Jackson (1,690 yards rushing) and wideout James Newson (1,284 yards receiving).

At N.C. State, the Wolfpack offense averaged 37.6 points, 100.85 yards rushing and 353.3 yards passing per game in 2003. The next season, they averaged 26.4 points,163.2 yards rushing and 222.2 yards passing per game. And in 2005, they averaged 20.75 points, 124.4 yards rushing and 282.3 yards passing per game.

In January 2009, Mazzone was under consideration by Randy Shannon for the vacant position as offensive coordinator for the Miami Hurricanes. He was also being considered for the job coaching quarterbacks under Mangini with the Cleveland Browns, but Carl Smith eventually was hired there.

And that left Mazzone available to possibly be hired by Pitt.

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