Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Pittman in line with UA
Jim Pittman was named Arkansas' offensive line coach on Thursday after one season at Tennessee.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas added a former Tennessee football assistant for the second consecutive day Thursday, agreeing to terms with offensive line coach Sam Pittman.
Pittman, who had coached one season with the Volunteers after spending the previous five years at North Carolina, followed former Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney to Bret Bielema’s first-year staff.
“I’m ecstatic about working with [Bielema] and, of course, I’m working with a great offensive coordinator, Jim Chaney, as well as a wonderful friend of mine,” Pittman said.
Arkansas officials released salary figures for Bielema’s hires Thursday. Chaney and defensive coordinator Chris Ash will each be paid $550,000 per year. Chaney’s deal extends for three football seasons through the end of June 2016, while Ash’s agreement runs for two seasons through June 2015.
Pittman’s offer letter sets forth a salary of $275,000 and his agreement goes through June 2014.
All of the new coaches have buyouts in their deals. Ash and Chaney would have to pay $100,000, prorated over the life of their agreements if they leave of their own accord. Pittman would owe the university $50,000, prorated, if he chose to depart.
Arkansas would have to pay Chaney a buyout if his deal is terminated, though the dollar figure isn’t explicitly stated. It includes proration, potential mitigation and other possible negotiation.
The Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel reported Thursday that Tennessee still owes Chaney guaranteed monthly payments that equal $600,000 through the end of 2013.
The Chaney-Pittman combination will give Arkansas some continuity and coaches with backgrounds in the SEC.
“Sam Pittman has earned a reputation as one of the finest offensive line coaches and one of the most relentless recruiters in the nation,” Bielema said in a university release. “His time with Jim Chaney is another bonus as we move forward with the development of our offensive philosophy.
“He has been a part of great programs where he played a major role in assembling highly ranked recruiting classes. He has demonstrated the ability to help linemen make remarkable improvement in a short amount of time. He also is able to relate to his players and simplify the game for them, which will benefit our aggressive offensive attack.”
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Pittman, who was named one of the nation’s top 25 recruiters by ESPN, oversaw an improved Tennessee offensive front in 2012. The Volunteers led the SEC and ranked No. 4 nationally in allowing just eight sacks in 12 games.
Tennessee also improved its running attack by 70 yards per game, up to 160.3 yards per game, in 2012.
Pittman played football at Grove High School in northeastern Oklahoma, attended a Lou Holtz football camp in the late 1970s and came to Razorbacks games his senior year.
“We thought maybe we’d have an opportunity to play for Arkansas, but Lou Holtz and those guys decided they’d be better off if we didn’t, and they probably made a good decision,” Pittman said. “I got me one of those Hog bobbleheads and the whole nine yards.”
Chaney said in a teleconference Thursday that he expected to be in Fayetteville today, ready to get to work.
“I love this conference,”Chaney said. “I think the Southeastern Conference is by far the most competitive league, and as a competitive football coach, I was going to do everything I possibly could to remain in this setting.”
Running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Horton reportedly has been contacted by Auburn regarding a job on Gus Malzahn’s staff. Horton, who was previously one of five finalists for the head coaching position at Appalachian State, but the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal reported Thursday that interim coach Scott Satterfield will be hired.
Horton is thought to have a shot at staying with the Razorbacks as well.
Jim Chaney glance
POSITION Offensive coordinator
AGE 50 (born Jan. 12, 1962)
HOMETOWN Holden, Mo.
FAMILY Wife Lisa, daughters Elizabeth and Sara
ALMA MATER Central Missouri State
PLAYING CAREER Named all-conference nose guard during his senior year
COACHING CAREER Cal State Fullerton offensive coordinator/recruiting coordinator (1985-1987), Western Michigan offensive line (1988), Cal State Fullerton offensive coordinator/recruiting coordinator (1989-1992), Wyoming graduate assistant/tight ends (1993) and offensive line/recruiting coordinator (1994-1996), Purdue offensive coordinator (1997-2005) and recruiting coordinator (1997-2001), St. Louis Rams offensive line (2006-2007) and tight ends (2008), Tennessee offensive coordinator (2009-2012)
Sam Pittman glance
POSITION Offensive line
AGE 51 (born Nov. 28, 1961)
HOMETOWN El Reno, Okla
FAMILY Wife Jamie
ALMA MATER Pittsburg State
PLAYING CAREER First-team NAIA All-America defensive end and two-time all-conference selection. Inducted into Pittsburg State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998
COACHING CAREER Pittsburg State, high school and junior college positions (1984-1993), Northern Illinois offensive line (1994-1995), Cincinnati tackles/ tight ends (1996), Oklahoma offensive line (1997-1998), Western Michigan offensive line (1999), Missouri offensive line (2000), Kansas offensive line (2001), Northern Illinois offensive line (2003-2006) and assistant head coach (2004-2006), North Carolina offensive line (2007-2011) and associate head coach (2011), Tennessee offensive line (2012)
Sports, Pages 19 on 12/14/2012