Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is leaving Arkansas for the same position at Pitt, according to a Sports Illustrated report. He'll be joining the new Panthers staff led by former Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.
Chaney was one of three Arkansas assistants, along with receivers coach Michael Smith and running backs coach Joel Thomas who was not included in this week's report of raises and extensions for many on the Razorback staff.
Despite having two 1,100-yard rushers on the team, offense was clearly a struggle for the Razorbacks in the two years under Chaney's helm. Arkansas finished 102nd nationally in passing yards this season, and even though the team averaged 31.9 points per game for the year, they only scored more than 30 points once in SEC games this season. However, many considered the lack of production on offense more a result of lackluster talent in the passing game left over from the previous staff rather than Chaney's efforts.
Many Arkansas fans were frustrated with Chaney's penchant for throwing the ball more than many thought necessary. Nowhere was that more evident than the last drive against Missouri, when he only called pass plays even though the drive began with 4:38 to go and multiple timeouts. Bret Bielema was even publicly critical a few times, particularly of "cute" trick plays that failed throughout the season. My personal favorite was a reverse sweep....with a tight end. That happened against A&M and lost yards for the Hogs.
Pitt's assistant coaches' salaries are not available on the USA Today database for some reason, but it seems unlikely he's choosing to leave for more money. Former head coach Paul Chryst reportedly earned just $1.6 million in 2012, so they're hardly known for breaking the bank.
As for who could be a potential replacement for Arkansas, there's no telling. All of Bielema's hires last year were surprises, and he's clearly taking his time hiring a linebackers coach, so we'll see how this plays out.
It should probably be noted that fears of Sam Pittman following Chaney are likely completely unfounded. Recall, shortly after being hired, Pittman was set to leave Arkansas for Alabama without Chaney until the Razorbacks offered him enough money to stay. Pittman also just signed a raise and extension making him one of the higher-paid position coaches in the country, so he'd likely have to take a significant pay cut to take the same job at Pitt. I think he's at Arkansas for a while, or at least this year.