FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman had a Zoom conference with beat reporters on Tuesday with his contract among the topics.
Pittman and the University of Arkansas announced his new contract on June 2. It increases his base compensation and extends his employment agreement through potentially the 2027 season based on on-field success.
“A lot of it went back to my original contract,” Pittman said. “The number of wins changed from 6, 7, 8 to 7, 8, 9. That was a change in there, which we certainly understand. The program is different than it was a couple years ago. In contracts, we all want to be treated fair. That’s it. Sometimes the eye of the beholder is unrealistic, and in this case, maybe I was. I don’t have any idea. But I was very, very pleased and happy with the contract and the incentives in it. If I want to get paid more money, we need to win more football games. If we don’t, then it goes down to 50 percent in the buyout if they have to fire me and things of that nature. If we have a losing record.
“So, I thought it was fair for both, and I was very conscious of wanting it to be fair for the University as well. I think it put me about ninth in the SEC, and I’ve only been a head coach for two years. I think to me it was fair. I was ecstatic to get it. I thought Jimmy Sexton did a wonderful job with his communication through myself. You’d have to ask Hunter (Yurachek), but I think they have a really good relationship from this contract and I’m pleased this will be my last coaching job. The non-compete in the SEC is basically stating stability. That’s what I wanted. I wanted to be able to use that in recruiting, and we certainly have as recently as five minutes ago.”
The new five-year agreement began retroactively on January 1, 2022 and is effective through December 31, 2026. The agreement would be extended an additional year, through December 31, 2027, if Pittman leads Arkansas to seven wins in any one season (inclusive of a bowl game against a Power 5 or Top 25 team) during the term of the contract.
Terms of the new deal raise Pittman’s base salary to $5 million annually with compensation escalators based on the number of wins per season and incentive bonuses based on postseason success. The contract also has a non-compete clause and Pittman talked about that being something they can turn into a positive.
“Well, non-compete – basically how it came is I shot my mouth off on Scott Van Pelt and ESPN, and then I was told ‘you shot your mouth off, so you might as well sign it in there,”‘ Pittman said smiling. “Then I got to thinking about it and thought ‘you know what, this could help us in recruiting.’ You know, we’re one of eight programs of 130 that have the two coordinators and the head coach coming back for year three. The portal has been around a long time for football coaches, and so I thought we could sell some stability, and that’s why I wanted it in the contract. And I told the people of Arkansas that this would be my last job, and I wanted a piece of paper to confirm what my mouth said.”
The rumor of the contract and speculation went on for several months. With Arkansas coming off the best season in several years going 9-4 in 2021 that allowed Pittman to have some momentum and even leverage to a degree. Pittman is relieved it’s finished.
“Yeah. In all honesty, even though you’re not trying to think about it as it continues to go longer and longer, it wears on you, and you don’t want it to,” Pittman said. “You’re getting paid, you have a job to do. But when we signed it, it was a relief and an honor. It was an honor that the school thought enough of me to give me a longer contract and obviously financial benefit of that and things of that nature. But it was probably a relief but also very humbling and an honor that as long as we can keep winning and things that I could be the head coach at Arkansas for several years, and that was the goal of it.”
Pittman signed the contract at the spring meetings and that was something his wife also was pleased.
“It was unbelievable,” Pittman said. “I mean, I’m so fortunate. I mean, I really am so honored. I mean, I am. But we were at a get-together Tuesday, I believe. Yeah, Tuesday night. And Hunter had the contract, and we went up to his room and signed it. And then he and the university took all kinds of, you know, the faculty rep and, and, you know, the administration and Muss (Eric Musselman) and Coach (Mike) Neighbors. And, of course, Van Horn was working. And we all went to dinner. But it was a wonderful night for not only myself, but for Jamie as well. And it was really cool that we got to celebrate that night together. Just a privilege and honor to be the head coach at Arkansas. And that’s how I felt.”
Pittman and the Razorbacks won all four trophy games played in 2021. They beat Texas A&M, LSU, Missouri and Penn State to capture each of the trophies on their way to a nine-win season that also saw them defeat Texas.