Pittman tabbed to lead Razorbacks

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By Kyle Parkinson

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Former Arkansas assistant head coach Sam Pittman has been tabbed as the 34th head coach in Arkansas football history by the University of Arkansas and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek.

Pittman returns to The Hill after four seasons on staff at Georgia, including this last season when he served as the Associate Head Coach and offensive line coach for the Bulldogs. Georgia was just the most recent stop of Pittman’s career that has spanned the high school, junior college and collegiate levels. The Oklahoma native has coached at seven different Power 5 schools during his 32 years of coaching, including Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. With a wealth of experience, Pittman is widely regarded as one of the nation’s best offensive line coaches and recruiters. He has coached 12 players that have been selected in the NFL Draft since 2013, including first round picks Frank Ragnow (20th in 2018) Isaiah Wynn (23rd overall in 2018), Ja’Wuan James (19th overall in 2014) and Jonathan Cooper (7th overall in 2013). Travis Swanson also became the highest drafted Razorback center in school history when he was picked 76th overall in 2014.

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“Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Hunter Yurachek said. “As one of the nation’s premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.

“Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation’s best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff. In his previous tenure, Sam and his wife Jamie fell in love with the state of Arkansas and with Razorback fans. They know what a special place this is and are excited for the opportunity to come back to the Home of the Razorbacks.“

Pittman arrived in Athens in 2016 as the offensive line coach as part of Kirby Smart’s first staff. In his four seasons with the Bulldogs, Pittman helped Georgia to unprecedented success including three-straight Southeastern Conference Eastern Division titles. This season, the Bulldogs’ rushing attack has been led by D’Andre Swift, who finished fourth in the league with 1,216 yards just ahead of Arkansas’ Rakeem Boyd (1,133). The 2017 Bulldogs were a special team, winning 13 games, the SEC championship and making the school’s first-ever College Football Playoff appearance – a win over Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. Georgia’s offense that year was the best in the SEC and ninth nationally in rushing, led by Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. During his four seasons in Athens, he was part of a staff that produced four Top 10 recruiting classes, including the nation’s No. 1 class in 2018.

An original member of Bret Bielema’s staff at Arkansas in 2013, Pittman helped build the Razorbacks’ offensive line into one of the best in the league. He quickly made an impact, helping Travis Swanson earn first-team All-America honors and be a Rimington Trophy finalist in 2013. His first two offensive lines at Arkansas led the SEC in sacks allowed per game and his offensive line in 2014 paved the way for two 1,000-yard rushers in Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins. That OL also averaged 328.4 pounds per player as the largest offensive line in the FBS and NFL that season. In Pittman’s final year in Fayetteville his offensive line contributed to an offense that finished second in the SEC in total offense (456.8 ypg), second in scoring (40.2 ppg) and third in passing offense (264.2 ypg). During his tenure with the Razorbacks, Pittman mentored some of the best offensive linemen at Arkansas in recent memory, including Swanson, Sebastian Tretola, Dan Skipper and Frank Ragnow.

Pittman’s coaching career began in 1987 as the head coach at Princeton (Mo.) HS. He coached at Hutchinson (Kan.) CC for three seasons, including the final two as the head coach, before getting his first FBS opportunity at Northern Illinois in 1994. He later returned to NIU to help the Huskies to a pair of division championships and two bowl games. Pittman got his first experience in the SEC in 2012 when he joined the staff at Tennessee.

Pittman played defensive end at Pittsburg State, where he was a first-team NAIA All-American and twice earned all-conference recognition. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1986 and was inducted into the PSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998. He is married to his wife, Jamie.

Pittman will be announced at a public celebration on Monday on the field inside the Walker Pavilion at 3 p.m. Fans are encouraged to park in lots west of Razorback Road, including Lots 72, 73, 73A and 74. Doors on the east and west side of the Pavilion will open at 2 p.m.