Between the hectic holiday season, the recruiting dead period, finals week interrupting basketball season, and what not, it's been a fairly slow news week in Hogland. But there have been a few stories people have been talking about, and I feel the need to take a minute and knock out some thoughts on a few topics.
The guys at CoachingSearch.com want you to know Bret Bielema is still losing assistants even after he said he left Wisconsin because he needed more money to keep from losing assistants. They even made a chart. However, their own chart - which arbitrarily begins in 2011 when Paul Chryst left Wisconsin for Pitt and took a few of Bielema's assistants with him - shows the issue is actually declining.
Bielema went from losing six assistants after 2011 to three after 2013, three after 2014, and so far only one after 2015. I don't think you have to be an analytics expert to understand the chart actually suggests he's losing fewer and fewer. And, also based on their own chart, the assistants Bielema has lost have predominantly been lost to promotions or schools widely considered to be better jobs.
It's also highly debatable whether or not George McDonald should even have been included. Bielema hired him as a wide receivers coach shortly after coming to Arkansas, but weeks after his hire, he was offered an offensive coordinator position at Syracuse, which he obviously accepted.
A far more interesting study would be to compare how frequently coaches across the country lose assistants, but only, obviously, if they interpreted the data correctly instead of trying to force a narrative.
All of this is brought on by Sam Pittman's departure for Georgia. It should be noted that the Bulldogs are paying a king's ransom to get him. He'll reportedly earn $650,000 per year in Athens, which alone will put him among the highest-paid position coaches in the country. The Bulldogs also paid $250,000 for his buyout, meaning UGA will spend $900k this year for Pittman's services, a price tag that puts him just outside the nation's top 10 highest-paid coordinators. Quite a statement.
It's pretty clear that coaches' salaries aren't going down anytime soon. It'll be interesting to see what the Hogs do with Dan Enos' contract. His $550,000 salary was tied for 55th in the nation among assistants this year, and we've already seen schools like UGA express interest in him. I'd bet he'll get a hefty raise pretty soon. Probably not until after the Liberty Bowl, though.
A lot of people have made a big deal over Bielema taking seven of the offensive linemen to Pittman's house the Friday night before he announced he was leaving. I don't really care about that. If that was Bielema's last-ditch effort to keep Pittman, was it not worth a shot?
I'm also not really concerned about the he said-he said about whether or not Pittman was going to tell his players in person. I believe he did ask his linemen to meet him before the press conference, but it's also true that he didn't meet with any of them after the seven linemen went to his house. Arkansas does have more than seven offensive linemen, so it sounds like he did refuse to meet with at least some of them.
At the same time, Bielema shouldn't have said all the things he said in that press conference. The stuff about Pittman not making a name for himself until he came to Arkansas was unnecessary and basically factually wrong. Pittman did have an offer to go to Alabama weeks after signing with the Hogs. He does have players from his North Carolina days in the NFL. Bielema wanted to hire him for some reason. Bielema has a tendency to make petty statements when he's upset and they don't come across well.
He also never should have taken Pittman at his word that he didn't need a buyout. I appreciate his trusting nature, but it's pretty incredible that, after over a decade in coaching, he let that happen.
Hunter Henry is a consensus 1st Team All-American. One of the handful in Razorback history. However, he may not be unanimous because the FWAA chose to honor three running backs on their team instead of the usual two running backs and a tight end. I guess he'll have to make due.
This isn't the first time the FWAA has done this, and the three running backs are all worthy, so I'm having a hard time drumming up the outrage over this.
I also don't care much for the Senior Bowl, but it was amazing to hear Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage on the Bo Mattingly show Wednesday afternoon explaining why Jacob Coker was invited over Brandon Allen. At least he was honest. It's basically a showcase for Alabama and Auburn players first and foremost, apparently. Everything else is window dressing. Look at these tweets:
Savage: The Senior Bowl is in Mobile, Ala. Jake Coker is a Mobile-native. We’ve got a game and tickets to sell.— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) December 16, 2015
Savage: Every Alabama quarterback since 1958 has been invited to the Senior Bowl. That predates my tenure.— Bo Mattingly (@SportsTalkwBo) December 16, 2015
Remember when every Razorback fan freaked out about the drama surrounding one 5-star quarterback several years ago? Can you imagine what it would have been like if there were two such quarterbacks in that situation and both left Arkansas? That's the scenario in College Station right now. Kyle Allen, who started against Arkansas in September, announced last week he was transferring. It was then leaked yesterday that hotshot freshman Kyler Murray, the presumed starter without Allen competing for the spot, was leaning toward transferring. How Sumlin and the Aggies screwed that up is beyond me.