MATT CAVANAUGH, who ranks among the most effective and efficient quarterbacks in Pitt history, is in his fourth year as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Panthers.
In its 2007 college football annual, The Sporting News named Cavanaugh the top offensive coordinator in the Big East -- and for good reason. In Cavanaugh, Pitt has a well-versed offensive mind who has experience on both the pro and college levels.
Overseeing a unit rife with youth last year, the Panthers produced their first 1,000-yard rusher in seven years. Tailback LeSean McCoy rushed for a Big East freshman record 1,328 yards and topped all freshman runners nationally with 110.67 yards per game. McCoy set Pitt freshman records for points (90) and rushing touchdowns (14), surpassing the legendary Tony Dorsett's 34-year-old marks (78 points, 13 rushing TDs in 1973).
In 2006, Pitt ranked among the nation's top 20 in three different major offensive categories, including pass efficiency (third, 166.79 rating), scoring (14th, 31.75 points per game) and passing (20th, 249.25 yards per game). Pitt's scoring average of nearly 32 points per game that season was its highest in 25 years. Only the Panthers' 1981 edition, which averaged 32.1 points under quarterback Dan Marino, scored at a higher clip during that span.
Individually, quarterback Tyler Palko, now with the New Orleans Saints, was a major beneficiary of Cavanaugh's guidance. As a senior, Palko led the Big East and ranked fourth in the country in pass efficiency (163.25). He finished his career ranked second all-time at Pitt in total offense (8,429) and touchdown passes (tied with 66) and additionally finished third in career passing yards (8,343).
Cavanaugh has renewed ties with Dave Wannstedt for the third time. Wannstedt was an assistant on the Pitt staff during the final three years of Cavanaugh's sparkling collegiate career from 1974-77. The pair also worked together in the NFL when Wannstedt was the head coach of the Chicago Bears and Cavanaugh his offensive coordinator.
Cavanaugh will forever be remembered in Panther lore for quarterbacking Pitt to the 1976 national championship. He capped that magical season with an MVP performance in the Sugar Bowl, leading Pittsburgh to a 27-3 demolition of Georgia. Cavanaugh scored the first touchdown of the game and the celebration of that score became a Sports Illustrated cover (Jan. 10, 1977), which is still displayed at several locales on campus.
His effective blend of passing and running made him an All-American in 1977 and his 3,378 career passing yards still rank 13th in Pitt annals.
He returned to Pittsburgh in 2005 with an impressive resume as a player and coach on both the collegiate and professional levels. In addition to his collegiate championship, Cavanaugh earned three Super Bowl rings, including two as a player (with the San Francisco 49ers in 1984 and the New York Giants in 1990) and one as a coach (Baltimore Ravens in 2000).
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, and graduate of Chaney High, Cavanaugh spent 14 years as a quarterback in the National Football League. A second-round selection of New England in 1978, he spent five seasons (1978-82) with the Patriots before moving on to stints with the San Francisco 49ers (1983-85), Philadelphia Eagles (1986-89) and New York Giants (1990-91).
Cavanaugh began his coaching career at Pitt, where he served as tight ends coach for John Majors in 1993. He then moved back to the NFL, serving as quarterbacks coach for the Arizona Cardinals from 1994-95 and at San Francisco in 1996.
From 1997-98, Cavanaugh was offensive coordinator for Chicago, serving under Wannstedt, who was the Bears' head coach. He then was the offensive coordinator at Baltimore (1999-2004), where during the Ravens' Super Bowl season he orchestrated a rushing attack that produced a franchise-record 2,199 yards.
Cavanaugh earned his bachelor's degree from Pitt in administration of justice.
Hometown: Youngstown, Ohio
Alma Mater: Pittsburgh, '79
Family: Cavanaugh's wife's name is Maria. He is the father of three children: Amy, Andrew and Mollie.
Arizona, 1994-95, quarterbacks.
San Francisco, 1996, quarterbacks.
Chicago, 1997-98, offensive coordinator.
Baltimore, 1999-2004, offensive coordinator.
Pittsburgh, 1993, tight ends; 2005-present, offensive coordinator & quarterbacks.
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