Arkansas Razorbacks hire Sam Pittman as new head coach

Sam Pittman, a former assistant at Arkansas, will be the Razorbacks' next head football coach, athletic director Hunter Yurachek announced Sunday.

Pittman was the associate head coach and offensive line coach at Georgia and is widely viewed as one of the best recruiters and offensive line coaches in the SEC. Several former Arkansas players, some of whom have played in the NFL, sent letters to Arkansas officials expressing support for Pittman.

"Sam Pittman has been an integral part of successful teams that have competed at the highest levels, including for SEC and NCAA Championships," Yurachek said in a statement. "As one of the nation's premier offensive line coaches, he has built a remarkable body of work thanks to his tremendous passion for his student-athletes, including teaching the fundamentals and developing his players on and off the field. Sam instills in his players the motivation, grit and determination required to compete and win. Throughout this process, I heard from many of his former players about the tremendous influence he had on them as a player and as a man.

"Sam knows the Southeastern Conference inside and out and is one of the nation's best recruiters. His connections throughout football will enable him to build a quality coaching staff."

Pittman will receive a five-year contract worth about $3 million annually that is heavy in performance bonuses. He will receive an automatic one-year extension if the Hogs reach a bowl game, which he's eligible for twice during the five-year deal.

If fired without cause, he will receive 75 percent of his remaining compensation if his teams have won more than 50 percent of their games, or 50 percent of the remaining salary if they've won fewer than 50 percent.

Pittman is credited with recruiting and building an offensive line that helped the Bulldogs win the SEC East each of the past three seasons. In 2018, the Bulldogs signed the top two guards in the ESPN 300 (Trey Hill and Jamaree Salyer) and the No. 3 tackle (Cade Mays). Last year, Georgia signed No. 1 center Clay Webb. The Bulldogs have commitments from four offensive linemen in the 2020 ESPN 300 -- No. 1 tackle Broderick Jones, No. 2 center Sedrick Van Pran, No. 11 tackle Tate Ratledge and No. 19 tackle Chad Lindberg.

Bulldogs junior Andrew Thomas is the highest-rated tackle prospect available in the 2020 NFL draft, according to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.

"It's always the nature of the beast," Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said Sunday before Pittman's hiring was announced. "You always hear rumors flying around and things coming around, but you never know what's true and what's not. Right now we're focusing on the Sugar Bowl and getting ready for it."

Pittman was the assistant head coach, offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Arkansas from 2013 to '15 before joining Smart at Georgia. Pittman, 58, also coached at Tennessee and North Carolina before going to Arkansas in 2013.

Arkansas had also talked to Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach, among others, about its head-coaching job.

Pittman replaces Chad Morris, who was fired earlier this season after less than two years on the job. Arkansas finished this season 2-10 overall and has lost 19 consecutive SEC games dating to the end of the 2017 season. The Razorbacks have not reached a bowl game since 2016 and are on their fourth head coach in less than a decade.

ESPN's Mark Schlabach and The Associated Press contributed to this report.