Slow news day, huh Bulldog fans?
Sources tell ESPN that Sam Pittman, Georgia’s associate head coach and offensive line coach, has emerged as the top candidate for the Arkansas head coaching job. Pittman was at Arkansas from 2013-15 as assistant head coach, offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) December 8, 2019
Normally when you hear a December report that an SEC assistant coach is in consideration for a head coaching spot your first thought should be that the coach’s manager is doing his job by positioning his client for a raise. In this instance, there may be more to it.
Bruh what ...— Jamaree Salyer ♠️ (@jamareesalyer69) December 8, 2019
Coach Pittman has been extremely popular at Arkansas since he served under Bret Bielema from 2013 to 2015. He’s an ace recruiter and enjoys a reputation as perhaps the best offensive line coach/talent evaluator in America.
Further, and this is a real factor, no hot up-and-coming coaching commodity is going to take the Arkansas job. It’s a meat grinder of a job with a small recruiting base in the middle of the toughest division in college football. Arkansas needs to hire someone who comes in with a reservoir of goodwill among ‘Hawg fans upon which he can draw. Because Arkansas does not have the pieces to compete in the SEC West in 2020. They likely won’t in 2021 either. 2022 isn’t looking that promising unless the new guy can really catch lightning in a bottle. From that perspective the hire would make sense.
As will be no surprise to UGA fans, Pittman is also beloved by his former Arkansas players, and it’s to be expected that any of them involved with the search process would make him their #1 choice.
On the other hand, Pittman was an integral part of the Bielema staff Arkansas officials fired in order to hire Chad Morris from SMU. That didn’t go well, but bringing back Pittman would look a lot like admitting that they were wrong to go with a shiny, pass happy Group of 5 head coach. Ego’s a tough thing.
Pittman has reputedly shown no interest in being a head coach in the past, but I would assume like all coaches he’d at least be willing to listen to the right offer. Keeping him at Georgia was likely going to require a raise anyhow, but this ups the urgency a little. It’s also the price of success in the SEC. You can’t be as good on the offensive line as Georgia has been the past four years without people taking notice. I hope Coach Pittman stays, because he’s been a huge part of Georgia’s success. On the other hand, in the same sense that Mike Bobo had earned his shot when he took the Colorado State job, Coach Pittman’s earned his.