Kirk’s Korner: Sam Pittman, Hunter Yurachek Step up Big to Keep Two Key Assistants, Barry Odom, Brad Davis

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FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas recently gave defensive coordinator Barry Odom and offensive line coach Brad Davis $100,000 raises.

The two were given raises after a pair of SEC schools came after them. That boosted Odom’s pay to $1.3 million while Davis is now at $650,000. Most fans seem to have praised the move, but some appear to question it since neither Odom nor Davis have coached a game at Arkansas.

When Odom was hired for $1.2 million and Davis for $550,000 neither had coached a game at Arkansas. You pay coaches based on their resume when they are hired and these two were outstanding in that regard. The raises were first reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Matt Jones.

So why would Sam Pittman and Hunter Yurachek give these raises? It’s actually very simple. You either do that or you prepare to coach against them. Both were among the first targets sought by Pittman when he came to Arkansas. Davis was the first assistant he hired.

Odom will very likely prove very valuable to Pittman at Arkansas in more ways than just providing a better defense. Pittman has never been a head coach except for two years at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College in 1992-93. So he’s a head coach at a major college for the first time in his career.

Who better to be there to answer questions that will arise in certain situations than a coach who has been a successful head coach in the SEC? In four years as the head coach at Missouri, Odom was 25-25.

Some might want to scoff at the 25-25 record in four years there, but Arkansas during the same four years was 15-34. Odom is a noted defensive coordinator, but once again his worth helping Pittman with questions that will arise as head coach in the SEC is invaluable.

Pittman is familiar with Davis and heaped some high praise on him this past Friday.

“I trust him and I know he is a great person,” Pittman said. “He is as good an offensive line coach as there is in the country. If you go by jobs that he has been offered, he is as good an O-line coach as there is in the country because he has been offered a bunch. He has been offered some since he has been here.

“Most of the time that good O-line coaches are good coaches, most of the time they are good recruiters because they are good communicators. A guy that is a good recruiter usually becomes a good recruiter because he has got better talent than everybody else.

“That’s the one thing about Brad. He is one of those guys that it means a lot, too. He is a people pleaser. He wants to please whoever he is working with. He wants these kids to be as good as they can possibly be. It is kind of a thing inside, kind of in the make up of who he is. I really think he is as good a coach as there is.”

Two of the most important positions on a coaching staff is defensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Don’t be surprised if schools when they need an offensive coordinator come after Kendal Briles.

You have two decisions to make when forming a coaching staff or a staff in any profession. You can hire people who others will want and you do what it takes to keep them when that happens or you hire what you consider career people who while maybe not as talented as the other will stay with you. When it comes to forming a coaching staff that’s an easy decision for a Pittman or any other coach.

Props to Yurachek also for stepping up and allowing Pittman to go over the original budget, though it was a somewhat flexible one, to secure the assistants he needed and was able to bring to Fayetteville. On Dec. 9, Yurachek was asked how much money would Pittman have to hire coaches.

“It’s roughly about $5 million,” Yurachek said. “What we do is, we give Coach a pool. He can divide that up however he sees fit among his 10 assistants. There’s going to more money most likely invested in the coordinator positions and then work its way down from there.”

Pittman’s first staff is set to earn $5.225 million. Arkansas is a better program today because Pittman and Yurachek did what it took to secure keeping Odom and Davis.

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