When Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman made the decision to head to Georgia to be a part of Kirby Smart’s new staff, reuniting him with former Razorback offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, Bret Bielema realized he was losing more than a great assistant. He was also losing one of the most highly regarded offensive line coaches in the game, and an outstanding recruiter for his program.
Since trying to talk Pittman into staying put in Fayetteville didn’t work, Bielema gathered up the offensive line on Friday night and showed up on Pittman’s doorstep as a hail mary to get their offensive line coach to stay.
Leaving Arkansas for a step up was one thing to Bielema, but he he explained that he wasn’t going to lose an assistant to another SEC school without pulling out all the stops.
“This one took place within the conference, and I just wanted Sam to address the linemen as to why this was happening. I thought that was the last thing he could do, and he didn’t want to do that, so I just took them to him.” Bielema told Fox Sports.
“I think when you’re dealing with 19, 20, and 21-year-old kids, they’re going to be emotional,” Bielema said after the trip to Pittman’s house failed to sway his offensive line coach to stay. “Some were mad, sad, sad then mad. It’s a part of the job no one wants to talk about, and Sam, because of the way he recruits and the way he handles people, until this matter, had been very personal.”
Coach Pittman later responded via Twitter to set the record straight.
I had a meeting set for 10:30am today to talk to my guys. They came to see me last night at home never said I wouldn't meet them not true
— Coach Sam Pittman (@CoachSamPittman) December 13, 2015
Knowing how difficult it is to change jobs, Kirby Smart made sure that Pittman and his wife knew that their decision, although it came with some heartache, was appreciated.
— Coach Sam Pittman (@CoachSamPittman) December 14, 2015