Matt Jones is the editor of the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
Pittman: Coordinator search nearing conclusion
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman is shown during a game against Ole Miss on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said Friday that he has not hired a defensive coordinator, but is nearing a decision for the vacant position on his coaching staff.
Pittman said he is unsure of when he will officially announce the hiring and will weigh the pros and cons of recruiting for the Razorbacks and whatever school is impacted by his new hire. The three-day early national signing period for football begins next Monday.
“I just don’t know when I’m comfortable with making a decision, as far as when to announce that,” Pittman said. “I’m weighing a lot of things for our university and our players, first and foremost, and others as well.”
Shortly following Pittman's news conference, Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported that Tulane defensive coordinator Chris Hampton has emerged as a strong candidate for the job. Hampton is from Memphis and has previously coached at Arkansas State and Central Arkansas following a playing career at South Carolina.
Tulane, which is scheduled to play Southern Cal in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2, ranks 25th nationally in scoring defense and 33rd in total defense this season.
Former Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom was hired as UNLV’s head coach on Dec. 6. Pittman confirmed Friday that Tulsa had also contacted Odom about its head coaching position, which had been reported by Oklahoma media outlets earlier this month.
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Pittman said he was happy for Odom and former Arkansas tight ends coach Dowell Loggains, who was hired as offensive coordinator at South Carolina earlier this week. The Razorbacks have since replaced Loggains with former Stanford tight ends coach Morgan Turner.
Pittman spoke highly of Turner in his first public remarks since Turner was hired Thursday. Turner had multiple tight ends at Stanford drafted to the NFL.
“We’re ecstatic that we have a good coach for these guys at tight end,” Pittman said.
As for the defensive coordinator, Pittman said he wants to hire a candidate who can recruit well, who has multiple defensive sets and who will give the Razorbacks more looks with a four-man defensive front.
“I want to get a good man that gets along with the staff, the players respect and I’m looking for some aggressiveness out of that coordinator,” Pittman said. “Recruiting, coaching — those two things are big. And what kind of person is he? Will he be able to get players and will he be able to keep them? You’re not going to be able to keep all of them; I get that. I don’t believe any school is keeping all of them. But that’s what I’m looking for, and I think I’ve found it in two or three guys, to be honest with you.”
Pittman dispelled a rumor that he had interviewed Maryland defensive coordinator Brian Williams earlier this week when the Razorback Foundation jet was in Baltimore. Pittman said he was on a recruiting trip to the city.
He said a later stop that day in Miami was to pick up Turner, who was in the area recruiting.
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