|Born||November 28, 1961|
El Reno, Oklahoma
|Alma mater||Pittsburg State University|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1984–1985||Pittsburg State (GA)|
|1986||Beggs HS (OK) (OC)|
|1987–1988||Princeton Junior-Senior HS (MO)|
|1989–1990||Trenton HS (MO)|
|1991||Hutchinson CC (OL)|
|1994–1995||Northern Illinois (OL)|
|1999||Western Michigan (AHC)|
|2003||Northern Illinois (OL)|
|2004–2006||Northern Illinois (AHC/OL)|
|2007–2010||North Carolina (OL)|
|2011||North Carolina (AHC/OL)|
|Head coaching record|
Sam Pittman (born November 28, 1961) is an American football coach who is the head football coach at the University of Arkansas. Prior to being hired at Arkansas, he was the associate head coach and offensive line coach at the University of Georgia. Prior to his hiring at Arkansas, Pittman had spent almost his entire career – going back to the mid-1990s – as an offensive line coach at various college football programs.
Pittman was born in El Reno, Oklahoma. Sam's father, Don, moved the family to Grove, Oklahoma, because Grove High School had better recruiting prospects. Pittman, a multi-sport athlete in high school, attended Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas. He played defensive end at Pittsburg State from 1980 to 1983 and in his senior year was named a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-American. Pittsburg State inducted him into their Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.
Following his graduation from Pittsburg State, Pittman spent two years there as a student assistant coach before becoming offensive coordinator at Beggs High School in Beggs, Oklahoma, for the 1986 season. Following that stint Pittman served as head coach for Princeton Junior-Senior High School in Princeton, Missouri, from 1987 to 1988, and Trenton High School in Trenton, Missouri, from 1989 to 1990.
In 1991, Pittman was hired as the offensive line coach at Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kansas. The following year he was named head coach, replacing Glenn Percy. Pittman compiled an 11–9–1 record over two seasons. Pittman was credited with reviving a "struggling" program. Northern Illinois hired Pittman as its offensive line coach in February 1994. Then-head coach Charlie Sadler described Pittman as "one of the top up-and-coming offensive line coaches in the country." Sadler was fired after the 1995 season, and Pittman moved over to the University of Cincinnati, joining Rick Minter's staff as tight ends coach. Other coaches on that staff included future NFL head coaches Rex Ryan (defensive coordinator) and John Harbaugh (assistant head coach).
Pittman left Cincinnati after the 1996 season to become the offensive line coach at the University of Oklahoma under second-year coach John Blake. Rex Ryan followed Pittman to Oklahoma after Blake reshuffled his coaching staff at the end of the 1997 season. Oklahoma fired Blake after the 1998 season and Pittman moved over to Western Michigan University to join Gary Darnell's staff, again as offensive line coach. At the end of 1999 Pittman and offensive coordinator Bill Cubit departed Western Michigan to take up the same positions at the University of Missouri under Larry Smith. Missouri fired Smith at the end of the 2000 season; Pittman moved over to the University of Kansas under Terry Allen. Allen had reshuffled his coaching staff following a disappointing 4–7 season in 2000; in 2001 team went 3–8 and Allen was fired.
Pittman returned to the coaching ranks in 2003 as the offensive line coach at Northern Illinois, the same job he had held in 1994–1995. The head coach was Joe Novak, who had replaced the fired Sadler after the 1995 season. Northern Illinois promoted Pittman to assistant head coach for the 2004 season. Pittman departed Northern Illinois after the 2006 season to join new University of North Carolina head coach Butch Davis' staff as offensive line coach. Pittman was considered a potential head coach at Northern Illinois after Jerry Kill, Novak's successor, departed for the University of Minnesota after the 2010 season. Davis was dismissed before the 2011 because of an academic scandal; Pittman was considered for the interim head coach job which eventually went to Everett Withers.
After the conclusion of the 2011 season Pittman took the offensive line coach job at the University of Tennessee under Derek Dooley. Not the first time, Pittman was added to a coaching staff that had been just reshuffled because of poor performance. Tennessee fired Dooley at the end of season, and Pittman joined new University of Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema's staff as assistant head coach/offensive line coach, where he spent the 2013 through 2015 seasons.
Pittman departed Arkansas after the 2015 season to become offensive line coach at the University of Georgia under new head coach Kirby Smart and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, whom Pittman had previously worked with at both Tennessee and Arkansas. Georgia paid a $250,000 buyout to hire Pittman. When Pittman informed Bielema that he planned to take the Georgia job, Bielema brought several Arkansas offensive linemen to Pittman's house in an attempt to convince him to remain at Arkansas. Bielema claimed that Pittman had refused to meet personally with his players to inform them he would be leaving, a claim that Pittman denied.
At Georgia, Pittman garnered a reputation as "one of the best recruiters and offensive line coaches in the SEC." In his second season, Georgia won the SEC Championship Game and reached the College Football Playoff National Championship. That was the first of three consecutive Southeastern Conference East Division titles for Georgia from 2017-2019. Pittman's 2018 line was named a finalist for the Joe Moore Award for the best offensive line in college football. Pittman was promoted to associate head coach in 2019, with a salary of $900,000 per year making him the highest-paid offensive line coach in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Off the field, he became known for a catchphrase, "Yessir!", that he would use in social-media videos posted after Georgia secured commitments from significant recruits, beginning with quarterback Justin Fields in 2017.
On December 8, 2019, Pittman was announced as the new head coach at Arkansas, replacing Chad Morris, who was fired midway through his second season. Other candidates for the position reportedly included Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach. Several of Pittman's former players lobbied for him to get the job, including writing an open letter to Arkansas administrators shortly after Morris's firing. Pittman's hiring was announced on Twitter by athletic director Hunter Yurachek, including a video of Pittman and Yurachek yelling Pittman's trademark "Yessir!"
Sam is married to his wife, Jamie. Pittman is close friends with his former colleague Rex Ryan. Ryan (who according to Pittman is "not handy") once flew Pittman out to his home to help build a children's fort that Ryan had designed:
An effective coach was a person skilled at getting talented people to do things for him. After Ryan designed "the biggest kids' fort in the world!" for his two sons to play on in their Maryland backyard, a round-trip airplane ticket was purchased for Sam Pittman. Upon arrival, Pittman was presented with a three-level drawing made in Ryan's hand. The two men went out to the yard, and while Pittman measured and sawed, Ryan was right there beside him telling stories about tornadoes, making work seem like fun.— Nicholas Dawidoff, Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football (2013)
Head coaching record
|Hutchinson Blue Dragons (Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference) (1992–1993)|
|1993||Hutchinson CC||6–5||4–2||3rd||L Valley of the Sun|
|Arkansas Razorbacks (Southeastern Conference) (2020–present)|
Pittman served as an assistant coach under:
- Dennis Franchione: Pittsburg State (1985)
- Glenn Percy: Hutchinson CC (1991)
- Charlie Sadler: Northern Illinois (1994–1995)
- Rick Minter: Cincinnati (1996)
- John Blake: Oklahoma (1997–1998)
- Gary Darnell: Western Michigan (1999)
- Larry Smith: Missouri (2000)
- Terry Allen: Kansas (2001)
- Joe Novak: Northern Illinois (2003–2006)
- Butch Davis: North Carolina (2007–2010)
- Everett Withers: North Carolina (2011)
- Derek Dooley: Tennessee (2012)
- Bret Bielema: Arkansas (2013–2015)
- Kirby Smart: Georgia (2016–2019)
- Tramel, Berry (December 31, 2017). "Sooner fan Pittman coaches Georgia O-line". Daily Oklahoman. p. 25. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Sam Pittman joins Northern Illinois' football staff". Daily Chronicle. February 3, 1994. p. 10. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Novak fills NIU football staff gaps hiring Bleil, Doornbos, Pittman". Daily Chronicle. March 8, 2003. p. 16. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Wheeler new coach at Hutch". St. Joseph News-Press. July 2, 1998. p. 13. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- Fay, John (February 8, 1996). "UC signs local talent". Cincinnati Enquirer. p. 38. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- Hersom, Bob (November 25, 1997). "New Line of Work". Daily Oklahoman. p. 23. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Broncos get new offensive line coach". Battle Creek Enquirer. May 8, 1999. p. 9. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- Coats, Bill (January 4, 2000). "Smith hires 3 coaches to round out MU staff". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 23. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- Bechard, Harold (March 29, 2001). "New-look Jayhawks open camp today". Salina Journal. p. 21. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Potential Replacements For Kill". Daily Chronicle. December 6, 2010. p. 1. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- Beard, Aaron (July 30, 2011). "UNC turns to Withers to lead". Asheville Citizen-Times. p. 21. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- Gilbert, Bob (January 14, 2012). "Coaches take leap of faith coming to UT". Daily News-Journal. p. 12. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- "UA chooses Sam Pittman as new football coach". Arkansas Online. December 9, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
- "Yessir: Sam Pittman on loving Georgia, leaving Arkansas and going viral". DawgNation. December 30, 2017. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
- Allen, Nate (December 14, 2015). "Pittman joins Smart's staff at Georgia". Baxter Bulletin. p. B2. Retrieved December 8, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- Sports, USA TODAY. "Arkansas' Bret Bielema took his line to see its departing coach". USA TODAY. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
- Low, Chris (December 8, 2019). "Arkansas Razorbacks hire Sam Pittman as new head coach". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
- "Arkansas announces Sam Pittman, Georgia football offensive line coach, as next head coach". DawgNation. December 8, 2019. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
- "Former Razorbacks advocate for Sam Pittman in open letter". HawgSports.com. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
- Dawidoff 2013, pp. 39–40
- Dawidoff, Nicholas (2013). Collision Low Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football. New York City: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-25184-6.