Mark Duffner, defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals the past two years and a 28-year coaching veteran, has been named linebackers coach for the Green Bay Packers, GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman announced Thursday.
Duffner, also formerly a head coach in the college ranks, succeeds Bo Pelini, who resigned to become defensive coordinator at the University of Nebraska.
The Virginian's addition to the Green Bay staff reunites him with Sherman, who earlier served as offensive line coach (1985-87) and offensive coordinator (1988) at Holy Cross during Duffner's five-year tenure as head coach there (1986-91).
"Mark Duffner brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge of coaching linebackers and defense over the past 28 years," said Sherman in making the announcement. "He has a tireless work ethic, a passion for the game and an internal desire to coach here in Green Bay. I have complete confidence he will impact not only our linebackers but our defense and team as well."
The 49-year-old Duffner was Cincinnati's linebackers coach for four years (1997-2000) before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2001. In his first season in the latter role - while continuing to coach the linebackers, the Bengals delivered their best defensive performance in more than a decade, allowing the fewest points (309) and posting the best NFL yardage ranking (ninth) of any Cincinnati defense since the 1989 season. Additionally, the '01 Bengals defense allowed the fewest yards per game (302) since 1983 and set a franchise, single-season record for sacks with 48.
Over Duffner's two-year span as coordinator (2000-01), the team allowed 315.5 yards per game, the club's lowest two-year total since 1987-88.
The addition of Duffner gives the Packers' current staff eight coaches with experience as an NFL offensive or defensive coordinator (also Mike Sherman, Larry Beightol, Sylvester Croom, Ed Donatell, Tom Rossley, Ray Sherman and Bob Slowik).
Prior to joining the Bengals staff, Duffner was head coach at the University of Maryland from 1992 through 1996, compiling a 20-35 record that included an 11-11 mark over his final two seasons, Maryland's best two-season record since 1984-85.
While at Maryland, Duffner acquired the Terps' first national ranking in nine years when his team rose as high as No. 17 in 1995. His Maryland teams also set more than 100 school offensive records. In the overall process, Duffner improved Maryland's player graduation rate, with three classes in a row ranking in the national Top 20 (1994-96).
Earlier, at Holy Cross, the Annandale, Va., native enjoyed the most successful era in the school's football history, posting a remarkable 60-5-1 record that included two 11-0 seasons (1987 and 1991) during his six-year tenure.
Duffner was chosen for three national coach of the year honors while at Holy Cross, a period during which his 1987 team was ranked No. 1 in the nation in Division I-AA by The Associated Press. He also was chosen 'New England Coach of the Year' five times.
He began his coaching career at Ohio State in 1975-76 as a graduate assistant to the legendary Woody Hayes. In 1977, he was named defensive coordinator at the University of Cincinnati, becoming - at age 23 - the youngest defensive coordinator in the Division I ranks.
Duffner played college football at William & Mary, where he was a defensive lineman and was named to the Southern Conference All-Academic team as a senior. He later was inducted into the William & Mary Hall of Fame in 1990.
Duffner, born July 19, 1953, and his wife, Kathy, have three children - daughters Christina, 23, and Carolyn, 21, and son, John, 18.
1975-76 - Ohio State, Graduate Assistant
1977-80 - Univ. of Cincinnati, Defensive Coordinator
1981-85 - Holy Cross, Defensive Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator
1986-91 - Holy Cross, Head Coach
1992-96 - Maryland, Head Coach
1997-2000 - Cincinnati Bengals, Linebackers
2001-02 - Cincinnati Bengals, Defensive Coordinator
2003 - Green Bay Packers, Linebackers