Sam Pittman, one of those colorful and friendly coaches in college football, has breathed life back into the Arkansas football program since he was hired from Georgia, where he was the offensive line coach.
Pittman was named the 34th head coach in Razorback history ahead of the 2020 season.
With a pair of seasoned coordinators in Barry Odom and Kendal Briles, Pittman and the Razorbacks quickly revived the program, which had won 8 games combined in the 3 seasons prior to Pittman’s arrival. The Hogs won 9 games in 2021, including an Outback Bowl victory over Penn State. That was the program’s most wins in a decade. Arkansas finished the season ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press Poll, a year-end ranking for the first time since 2011.
After going 3-7 in his first season while playing an all-SEC schedule, the 2021 team started 4-0 and rose to No. 8 in the AP Poll, thanks to wins over LSU and Texas A&M. Then they won the Outback Bowl to finish No. 21. For Arkansas faithful, Pittman was a refreshing change from an era where wins were all but impossible. Arkansas had failed to win an SEC game in the 2 years before Pittman’s arrival.
A native of Oklahoma, Pittman played at Pittsburg State in Kansas, and later went on to coach mostly offensive line since the late 1980s. Later, he was the OL coach at 6 programs in the Power 5. 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 education in 1986 and was inducted into the PSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.
Known as an elite recruiter, Pittman was a key part of the Georgia turnaround under Kirby Smart, and used the trademark phrase, “Yessir!” in videos on social media when a commit announced a pledge to play for him.
He has coached 17 players that have been selected in the NFL Draft since 2013, including first-round picks Andrew Thomas (4th in 2020), Isaiah Wilson (29th in 2020), Frank Ragnow (20th in 2018), Isaiah Wynn (23rd in 2018), Ja’Wuan James (19th overall in 2014) and Jonathan Cooper (7th overall in 2013).
Pittman has coached 7 offensive linemen that were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, including the 6 above and Stockar McDougle (20th overall in 2000). Travis Swanson also became the highest drafted Razorback center in school history at the time when he was picked 76th overall in 2014. It was Swanson who Pittman coached when he was an original member of Bret Bielema’s staff at Arkansas in 2013. Pittman turned the Razorbacks’ offensive line into one of the league’s best as Swanson earned first-team All-America honors and was a Rimington Trophy finalist.
During his first stint with the Razorbacks, Pittman coached some of the best offensive lineman in recent memory, including Swanson, Sebastian Tretola, Dan Skipper and Ragnow.
But as a head coach, one of the early signs of progress at Arkansas came when Pittman led the Hogs to upset No. 16 Mississippi State on the road, 21-14, which snapped a 20-game SEC losing streak and was the program’s first win against a ranked team since 2016.
With Pittman at the helm, Razorback faithful have reason to smile again, and more importantly, call the Hogs.
Sam Pittman’s Coaching Experience
- 1987-88: Princeton (Mo.) HS — Head coach
- 1989-90: Trenton (Mo.) HS — Head coach
- 1991: Hutchinson (Kan.) CC — Offensive line coach
- 1992-93: Hutchinson (Kan.) CC — Head coach
- 1994-95: Northern Illinois — Offensive line coach
- 1996: Cincinnati — Offensive tackles/tight ends coach
- 1997-98: Oklahoma — Offensive line coach
- 1999: Western Michigan — Assistant coach
- 2000: Missouri — Offensive line coach
- 2001: Kansas — Offensive line coach
- 2003: Northern Illinois — Offensive line coach
- 2004-06: Northern Illinois — Assistant head coach/offensive line coach
- 2007-10: North Carolina — Offensive line coach
- 2011: North Carolina — Associate head coach/offensive line coach
- 2012: Tennessee — Offensive line coach
- 2013-15: Arkansas — Assistant head coach/offensive line coach/recruiting coordinator
- 2016-2018: Georgia — Offensive line coach
- 2019: Georgia — Associate head coach/offensive line coach
- 2020-present: Arkansas — head coach
Head Coaching Record
- Arkansas (3 seasons): 19-17 (10-16 in SEC play)