When then-Pitt offensive coordinator Mark Whipple met with Florida State transfer quarterback Chubba Purdy on Monday night at the latter’s home in Arizona, the excitement that followed was understandable. With Kenny Pickett departing for the NFL after the season, the thought of a former four-star quarterback entering the fold as a potential replacement left many hopeful.
Whipple’s abrupt departure from Pitt less than 24 hours later, resigning from his position Tuesday afternoon, left a lot of questions, but perhaps the most concerning was whether Whipple was potentially recruiting for Nebraska on Pitt’s dollar.
The reports out of Lincoln, Nebraska are that Whipple met with Nebraska Sunday, a day before visiting Purdy. And a day later, he resigned from Pitt. While the situation surrounding Whipple and former Oklahoma assistant Roy Manning are different, the similarities do seem to ring a bell.
Manning had reportedly joined outgoing coach Lincoln Riley at USC, a deleted Twitter post seemingly confirming the news, but he continued to recruit at Oklahoma. Through further social media posts, it came out that Manning was recruiting for both USC — without being officially confirmed as a coach — and Oklahoma. Well, Manning is now with Riley at USC.
Of course, Whipple hasn’t been hired by Nebraska — yet — and he hasn’t publicly been exposed as recruiting for two separate programs, but if Whipple and Purdy wind up at Nebraska…
It’s an unfortunate conclusion to Whipple’s time with Pitt since he’s been such a key factor in Pitt’s offensive resurgence this season. Pickett’s Heisman-worthy super-senior campaign has been in conjunction with Whipple’s best season with Pitt. And Pickett has consistently credited Whipple in his success.
However, the loss of Whipple isn’t a wildly surprising move since a rumored retirement and expiring contract seemed to point toward change in the future. It’s possible that this sort of exit is just the new normal in the world of college football.
If the intensity and lucrative nature of college football’s coaching carousel have proven anything this year, it’s that college football is a big business. If there’s money to be made, more often than not, that’s what the deciding factor in decisions will be.
Whipple’s apparent move to Nebraska is a lateral, if not backward move for the veteran offensive coordinator. What will likely be the deciding factor in Whipple’s move is the financial gain he’ll receive as Nebraska’s offensive coordinator as opposed to Pitt’s.
The gray area in college football recruiting has always been particularly gray, but it’s only going to get worse. Miami had head coach Manny Diaz out recruiting while publicly pining after Oregon’s Mario Cristobal. Cristobal was eventually hired while Diaz served as the acting head coach. He was eventually bought out.
The constant movement of coaches and players isn’t going anywhere, and if anything, the “free agency” approach to the portal may even get bigger.