FAYETTEVILLE — Some sports fans are taking a political approach to coaches leaving and possibly going to other schools.
Rumors start of rifts at their old schools when, in truth, late December and early January has always been a time when coaches are on the move. If one must always find a reason the best thing to lean to is more money.
For instance, Justin Stepp left Arkansas to go to South Carolina on Sunday. For Stepp, the main thing was a chance to go home. He was born in Columbia, S.C. You don’t always get a chance to go home and Stepp took the opportunity. Arkansas moved quickly to replace Stepp with Kenny Guiton from Colorado State who comes with very high marks from many observers.
In addition though, South Carolina is paying Stepp $460,000 a year which is a $60,000 raise over what he was making at Arkansas. That extra $5,000 a month never hurts anyone’s bank account. Even with the additional money, Stepp told an Arkansas recruit it was the hardest decision he ever made in his life. Stepp had opportunities to leave Arkansas before and chose to stay in Fayetteville. He made the decision because it’s home.
Rumors persist Shane Beamer, who has a base salary of $2.75 million, could be about to take another Arkansas assistant with him. Jamil Walker, Arkansas’ strength and conditioning director, is making $300,000 at Arkansas. Sources indicate South Carolina is willing to pay him $360,000. There’s that extra $60,000 showing up again.
For Walker though it isn’t home. Walker is from Illinois and attended Wisconsin. He came to Arkansas with Sam Pittman from Georgia. He also became friends with Beamer when both were at Georgia.
Sources indicate former Razorback Tenarius Wright is going to pull in $1.2 million on a three-year contract at Illinois with Bret Bielema. The former head coach at Arkansas has hired Wright away from Army as his strength and conditioning coach. The move came after Ben Herbert opted to stay at Michigan instead of joining Bielema in Illinois.
One fan said yesterday to this reporter that $60,000 isn’t all that much money. My response was do you know how many people don’t make $60,000 a year? I get fans want coaches to stay, but come on that is a lot of money no matter how much they are already making.
Texas is looking for a defensive coordinator since Will Muschamp turned them down. It is known that Arkansas’ Barry Odom is among the targets for Steve Sarkisian the new head coach of the Longhorns. If Odom were to leave then it’s almost a certainty he would take Sam Carter, who coaches the cornerbacks, with him. That would be a double blow to Sam Pittman.
But, according to various sources, Sarkisian has some other top names among the candidates for that spot as well. Auburn’s Kevin Steele will land somewhere as he is among the nation’s best. Cincinnati’s Marcus Freeman is among the best in the business as well and has big schools coming after him.
If anyone wants to know what it’s like to be at the top program in the country right now, Alabama, where if you are Nick Saban you get what you want. According to FootballScoop.com, two candidates to replace Sarkisian as the Tide’s offensive coordinator are Adam Gase and Bill O’Brien. Those were head coaches in the NFL this past season who were fired. Lose a coordinator and just go hire a former NFL head coach to replace him. Pittman and all other head coaches not in Tuscaloosa have to be thinking that must be nice.
Movement of assistant coaches in college football as well as the NFL is part of life and a common thing particularly this time of year.