Monday, July 4, 2022

Sam Pittman contract extension: Arkansas coach signs five-year deal worth $5 million annually

Arkansas announced Thursday that coach Sam Pittman has signed a new contract keeping him in Fayetteville through at least the 2026 season and potentially the 2027 season. Pittman will have a base salary of $5 million with compensation escalators based on number of wins and postseason success. 

“Arkansas is where I want to be, this is my dream job,” said Pittman in a university statement. “I am so grateful for our University and Hunter for believing in me, our coaches and staff and the program we’re building. We are all excited to continue to build on what we’ve done and continue to make our fans and the whole state of Arkansas proud of our football team.”

He is 12-11 in two seasons leading the Razorbacks, but that record doesn’t show just how improved this program has been under his leadership. 

The new deal officially runs through the 2026 season, and an automatic one-year extension will be triggered if he posts a seven-win season (bowl games against Power Five or Top 25 teams included). That seems like a reasonable bar to reach considering the Razorbacks went 9-4 last season and won the Outback Bowl over Penn State.

“Coach Pittman and his staff have done a tremendous job quickly restoring the pride and belief in our football program,” athletic director Hunter Yurachek said. “There is no doubt, Coach Pittman has proven to be the right man to lead our football team. He has earned this opportunity with the success he and his staff have had on the field and on the recruiting trail. Last fall, we won four trophies, including one for our victory in the Outback Bowl, and enjoyed our best season in a decade, and I believe we’re just getting started. I look forward to continuing to work with Coach Pittman as we build our football program back to elite status.”

What does Pittman’s new contract mean? Here are takeaways from the news:

Arkansas is finally stable

The Hogs were a hot mess during the latter part of last decade. Their last winning season came under Bret Bielema in 2016 when they went 7-6 and lost the Belk Bowl. Bielema was fired after a 4-8 campaign the following year, and his successor Chad Morris went 4-18 without a single conference win over the next two seasons before being fired.

Pittman has changed that. The program’s success last season was its first nine-win effort since 2011 under Bobby Petrino, and we all know how his tenure ended. Simply put, Petrino’s extracurricular activities that earned him a pink slip sent the program into a tailspin that Pittman was finally able to pull it out of.

That stability will give Arkansas a chance to contend moving forward. It has already become a popular transfer destination for players in the portal, including linebacker Drew Sanders and wide receiver Jadon Haselwood. Pittman’s new deal signifies to high school and college players that Fayetteville is a place where you can win big and not have to deal with the turmoil of a potential coaching change.

Can the Hogs contend for national titles? Not yet. But Pittman is the best candidate Arkansas has had since Petrino (pre-motorcycle ride).

Pittman’s success should be celebrated

It’s hard not to be happy for Pittman. The Arkansas gig is his first as a head coach since leading Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College from 1992-93, and it is just his second one ever. He waited around as a position coach in the SEC, including stops at Georgia and Tennessee. At no point during his trek did he complain. He just kept pushing through.

He deserves the money, the stability and the admiration of the entire college football world. He’s not lying when he says this is his dream job, nor is it hyperbole. He is so married to the program that he built a giant hog statue on his property on the lake.

If that doesn’t scream “love,” I’m not sure what does. Good for him. 

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