"Frank has a proven record as one of the top offensive minds in the country and is the absolute best fit for the North Carolina football program," said Tar Heel head coach John Bunting. "In addition to being an outstanding coach, he's a terrific motivator and recruiter and came highly recommended from people throughout all levels of college and professional football. I had the opportunity to coach with Frank in New Orleans and was impressed with his work ethic, attention to detail and ability to develop players."
"North Carolina has everything in place to be a great football program and I could not be more excited to be working with John Bunting and this staff," said Cignetti. "I've always been impressed with Coach Bunting's enthusiasm and loyalty to North Carolina. We can recruit the best offensive players in the country to Chapel Hill and I look forward to working with our student-athletes."
Cignetti, 40, comes to Carolina after serving four seasons as the Bulldogs' offensive coordinator where he helped guide Fresno State to four consecutive bowl games, including a win over No. 18 Virginia in the 2004 MPC Computers Bowl. Fresno was 3-1 in bowl games with Cignetti.
In 2004, Fresno averaged 52.8 points over the last six games and became just the sixth team in NCAA history to score 50 or more points in four consecutive contests. Fresno finished that season 9-3, led the Western Athletic Conference in average yards per carry (5.4) and scored 65 touchdowns. The Bulldogs were outstanding in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on 42-of-53 attempts (.792).
This season, Fresno State went 8-5, including a 6-2 mark in the WAC and earned an invitation to the Liberty Bowl. The Bulldogs scored 42 points against No. 1 Southern California in a 50-42 loss in one of the most memorable games of the season and beat bowl teams Toledo and Boise State.
Cignetti was instrumental in the development of Fresno's four-year starting quarterback Paul Pinegar, who was the 2002 WAC Freshman of the Year and led the nation's freshmen in passing efficiency, passing yards and touchdowns. In 2005, Pinegar ranked 18th in the country in pass efficiency.
Cignetti has been a part of successful programs at all levels. In the NFL, he won a division championship and a playoff game with the New Orleans Saints in 2000. He was part of three bowl victories at Fresno State, and on the Division II level - at Indiana University of Pennsylvania - he reached the national championship game twice and the semifinals four times. He also has been a member of the coaching staff in the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine all-star games.
Before joining the Fresno State program, Cignetti served as the New Orleans Saints quarterbacks coach during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. In 2000, he helped the Saints earn the NFC West title and the franchise's first playoff win. The Saints' offense ranked 10th in the NFL in both 2000 and 2001. In 2000, he guided quarterback Jeff Blake to a career-high 82.7 rating before Blake suffered a season ending injury. The following season, quarterback Aaron Brooks was an alternate for the Pro Bowl. In New Orleans, he also coached current Carolina Panthers QB Jake Delhomme, current Rams QB Marc Bulger and the now retired Billy Joe Tolliver.
He joined the Saints after coaching one season as an offensive assistant and quality control coach with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1999. He was responsible for game analysis and opponent information. In 1999, Kansas City finished 9-7, second in the AFC West and the offense ranked 12th in the NFL.
From 1990-98, Cignetti was an assistant at Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he coached receivers (1990-92), the secondary (1993-94) and quarterbacks (1995-98). In his last two years at IUP, he served as the offensive coordinator.
Cignetti started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Pittsburgh for Mike Gottfried in 1989. The Panthers went 9-3 and defeated Texas A&M in the Sun Bowl.
He has coached for 17 years, working with NFL offensive coordinators such as Mike McCarthy (New Orleans Saints) and Tom Rossley (Green Bay Packers) and Jimmy Raye (Oakland Raiders).
Cignetti was an all-conference safety at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, from where he graduated in 1987. He played in the school's first ever appearance in a national playoff game in 1987 against Central Florida.
Born Oct. 4, 1965 in Pittsburgh, Cignetti's family has many football ties. His father, Frank, recently retired after 20 seasons as the head coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania where he won 182 games. The elder Cignetti was also the head coach at West Virginia from 1976-79. Cignetti's brother, Curt, is the tight ends coach at NC State.
Cignetti and his wife, Ellen, have three daughters, Alyssa (6) and Gabrielle (4) and Ella (1).