FAYETTEVILLE — While Arkansas saw five of its assistants leave for various reasons, Sam Pittman is elated to be able to bring back his three coordinators as well as his strength and conditioning coach.
Pittman talked about his coordinators while at the SEC Media Days on Thursday.
“I learned a lot of things as a head coach and continuing to learn,” Pittman said. “One of them is, as soon as your bowl game is over, or what was supposed to be our bowl game last year, people start coming after your coaches if they’re any good. I’m very proud that we were able to keep our three coordinators and our strength coach.”
Once again, Pittman and Hunter Yurachek had to do some work to keep Barry Odom as schools continue to come after Arkansas’ ace defensive coordinator.
“We were able to keep Barry Odom, who has been very valuable to me,” Pittman said. “Obviously, he was the head coach at Missouri in this league. I bounce things off of him frequently. He and I — believe it or not, he and I walk quite a bit. Now, he looks like he does and I look like I’m on his back, but I’m really walking. We go out there and we walk and we talk and we discuss the team. It’s a great 45 minutes so I can learn a little bit more about being a head coach.”
Kendal Briles has done a very good job with preparing KJ Jefferson for the quarterback job and found many ways to get the ball in wide receiver Treylon Burks’ hands last fall.
“I love Kendall Briles,” Pittman said. “He’s our offensive coordinator. I like his swagger. I like his confidence. I like his offense. There’s so many decisions that you have to make as a quarterback, and you have to make them fast, and he’s a great teacher of that. I’m awful happy we were able to keep him.”
In addition, Scott Fountain came from Georgia with Pittman and serves as the coordinator for special teams.
“He was actually my neighbor there, and by golly, he’s my neighbor over there in Fayetteville now,” Pittman said. “But he elected to come with us from Georgia. I’ll tell you about him, he’s loyal. He’s a good recruiter. He’s a hard worker. Our special teams will get better. I think last year, especially through the COVID and not knowing exactly who you have each and every week and sometimes you lose a few players on Friday, Scott did an outstanding job.”
South Carolina was rumored to want to hire Jamil Walker, but Pittman was able to retain him and is very thankful for it.
“Then the last coach I want to talk about is Jamil Walker, certainly slash Ed Ellis, but those two guys have done a great job with us,” Pittman said. “The weight room is for a lot of reasons. The biggest reason I know is for confidence. You’re building strength. You’re building weight. You’re building getting them in shape, but you’re also building that confidence, and that’s something I felt like the University of Arkansas football team needed.”
Pittman is also very grateful that Yurachek hired him, but also has stepped up each offseason allowing Pittman to retain Odom and some other assistants.
“I also want to thank Hunter Yurachek, our athletic director,” Pittman said. “He’s a rock star. I think, you ask any head coach at Arkansas and they’ll say the same thing about him. He’s my boss, obviously. I consider him and his wife, Jennifer, our friends, and I’m very thankful, especially because he hired me.”
The Razorbacks open the season on Saturday, Sept. 4, against Rice in Fayetteville.