Who: Mark Whipple, Nebraska
Title: Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach
Previous stop: Pittsburgh offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2019-21)
Why he's important: The longest flight in the world is offered by Singapore Airlines, a 9,300-mile journey from Singapore to New York's JFK airport. At least, that's the longest flight right now. The longest flight in the world could be taken later this month, from Dublin, Ireland to Lincoln, Neb., a mere 4,060-mile journey on the map that, in reality, would make the Singapore-to-New York trip's 18 hours and 40 minutes look brisk if the Cornhuskers lose to Northwestern on Aug. 27.
A loss in Dublin drops Nebraska to 3-10 since 2021 and an even 15-30 in the Scott Frost era.
Frost is aware of the stakes, of course. He was given the most public stay of professional execution the industry has ever seen, when his boss and fellow former Husker Trev Alberts retained him for a fifth season while admitting "(t)here's not a lot of empirical data out there to suggest this will work, let's be honest."
To either his eternal credit or his everlasting chagrin, Frost is staying the course, culture-wise.
"When you feel like you're doing the right things, a complete change of course is the wrong way to go," Frost said at Big Ten media days. "There's always little things that we might tweak or ways for us to look to get a little bit better. My role's going to change a little bit, having an offensive coordinator that I trust to take it over a little bit. But for the most part, we've been doing it the right way. It just hasn't led to the results we want yet.
"This year's going to be different."
Not everything's going to be the same, either.
Of the nine assistants Frost brought with him from UCF to Nebraska, only defensive coordinator Erik Chinander, defensive backs coach Travis Fisher, and inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud remain.
On offense, Mark Whipple leads a staff that is almost entirely new. Donovan Raiola will coach the offensive line, his first full-time solo O-line coaching gig above the Division III level. Mickey Joseph arrived from LSU to coach the wide receivers. Bryan Applewhite, formerly of TCU, will coach the running backs. Save for tight ends coach Sean Beckton, none of the staff have ever worked with Frost, and no one in the room has ever worked together.
If Frost is not over-correcting from a culture standpoint, he's certainly going in an opposite direction with his staff after bringing over his entire UCF staff the first time around.
"It's been a really good fit," Whipple said. "I like that guys have their own style and bring it to the offense. They brought some ideas and we put things together. They're really good people, number one, and they do a really good job of managing their group."
Not to worry, Frost has also pledged -- threatened? -- to remain involved in the offense as well.
"Stepping away is the wrong way to put it. I'm going to still have my hand in it," Frost said at Big Ten media days. "It's going to be a fun collaboration with somebody else who knows a lot of football. When I'm not around the offense, I'm going to be able to trust him to take care of it so I can do other things. I'm looking forward to having a little more of that role but still being involved a lot."
PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS: No. 15 Tim DeRutyer (Texas Tech); No. 14 Rob Sale (Florida); No. 13 Joe Gillespie (TCU); No. 12: Brennan Marion (Texas); No. 11: Derek Mason (Oklahoma State); No. 10: Eric Kiesau (Auburn); No. 9: Mike Denbrock (LSU); Jesse Minter (Michigan).
Given a new lease on life, Frost certainly hired from the top of the heap. Whipple's offense at Pitt won the Panthers their first ACC title, propelled Kenny Pickett to New York for the Heisman ceremony as well as the first round of the NFL draft, and won Jordan Addison the Biletnikoff Award. But it would be incorrect that Pitt's offense, which ranked third at 41.4 points per game last season, was always so powerful.
In 2018, the year before Whipple got to Pittsburgh, the Panthers ranked 94th in FBS at 25.6 points per game. That's nothing shocking; there's a reason Pitt hired Whipple in the first place, right? In 2019, Whipple's first year on the job, Pitt slunk to 21.2 points a game, 112th in the nation. Pickett threw 13 touchdowns on 6.6 yards per attempt that season. So the evidence tells us quarterback Casey Thompson -- a Texas transfer, one more new element in an offense full of them -- might not immediately light the world on fire.
But that's okay. Remember, Frost doesn't believe Nebraska needs a complete overhaul, just a few tweaks. (Improved pass blocking would be a start. Nebraska allowed more pressure than any Power 5 team in 2021, per Pro Football Focus.) This is a team that scored as many points as it allowed in its nine Big Ten games, yet managed to win just one of them.
Scoring more points is obviously a plus, but maybe Whipple and crew need to teach Nebraska how to simply quit stumbling on their own cleats. In an interview last week, Whipple indicated this.
"I think first games, at any level of football, are lost more than they're won."
For as complicated as football can be, the first rule of reboots is the simplest: the surest way out of a hole is to put down the shovel and stop digging.