Sam Pittman named offensive line coach; Harry Hiestand resigns

Dooley still looking for defensive coordinator

Sam Pittman

Sam Pittman

Age: 50.

Born: Nov. 28, 1961, in El Reno, Okla.

New position: Tennessee offensive line coach

Old position: North Carolina offensive line and assistant head coach

By the numbers: Helped the Tar Heels average 6.3 yards per play last season and freshman running back Giovani Bernard rush for 100 yards or more seven times

Coaching career: North Carolina (2007-11), offensive line/associate head coach (2011); Northern Illinois (2003-06), assistant head coach (2004-06), offensive line; Kansas (2001), offensive line; Missouri (2000), offensive line; Western Michigan (1999), offensive line; Oklahoma (1997-98), offensive line; Cincinnati (1996), offensive line/tight ends; Northern Illinois (1994-95). offensive line; Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College (1991-93), coach (1992-93), offensive line (1991); Trenton (Mo.) High School (1989-90), coach; Princeton (Mo.) High School (1987-88), coach; Beggs (Okla.) High School (1986), assistant coach; Pittsburg (Kan.) State (1984-5), student coach.

Playing career: Defensive end at Pittsburg State (1980-83); inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1998.

Degree: Bachelor’s degree in education, 1986.

Family: Wife, Jamie.

The latest job to come open at Tennessee was the quickest to be filled.

Barely more than a day after the departure of Harry Hiestand became apparent, the Vols wasted no time finding a replacement for the offensive line coach.

While the search for a defensive coordinator continued on Thursday without a resolution, the Vols quickly struck a deal with North Carolina offensive line coach Sam Pittman to fill a void on the coaching staff that seemingly only opened Wednesday when Hiestand emerged as the top candidate for the same position at Notre Dame.

UT officially confirmed the resignation of Hiestand late Thursday, but the list of available jobs under coach Derek Dooley barely had time to expand before Pittman scratched one off.

"Sam has an excellent reputation and track record as an offensive line coach and as a recruiter," Dooley said in a UT release. "He brings a considerable amount to our program as a coach and a person, and we are excited that he is joining our staff."

Dooley still has some work to do to complete it, starting with the vacant defensive coordinator slot. He has continued that search with a Wednesday interview with Alabama outside linebackers coach Sal Sunseri and another on Thursday with Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green, according to a source familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly about it.

The Vols also need a linebackers coach and a special teams coordinator, with San Diego Chargers assistant Rich Bisaccia the leading target for the latter. But despite losing their fifth coach since the end of the season with Hiestand leaving this week, only three spots officially remain open with Jay Graham returning to UT to coach running backs and Pittman now headed to the program as well.

Those two will be largely responsible for improving a rushing attack that was among the worst in the country last season, finishing the year ranked No. 116 in the nation by averaging just more than 90 yards per game.

A balanced North Carolina attack ended up only at No. 76 in rushing offense, but the 50-year-old Pittman and his linemen helped pave the way for running back Giovani Bernard, who posted seven 100-yard performances during a season that statistically ranked as the best in the country for freshmen.

The Vols will have to replace their starting tailback after Tauren Poole's graduation, but even after an inconsistent year up front, Pittman will be inheriting a veteran, talented group for the Vols as they head into their third season under Dooley.

UT will return all of its starters up front and has restocked a position that was almost entirely devoid of experience when Dooley took over — and when they go looking for more talented pieces to add to the mix, they'll do so with a top-25 recruiter according to ESPN.com.

Pittman was credited with signing tackles rated second in the nation during each of the last two recruiting seasons, and he also proved he could develop NFL draft picks while working with former Carter High School standout Garrett Reynolds, a fifth-round selection by Atlanta in 2009.

He spent five seasons with the Tar Heels following four at Northern Illinois, the longest stops in a career that has included stints at Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas, among others.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 166

buzz29 writes:

Sounds promising.

vollaw writes:

Good Hire.

Vols17 writes:

Sounds like a great hire! Maybe UT will have a running game next year. #GBO

Cartersvillevol writes:

Solid hire.

MOOREVOLS writes:

Excellent!

volnvette03 writes:

Though I am not fond of UNC, he should help us prepare for our opener with NC State!!

tennrich1 writes:

This should help calm everybody just a little...man i have never seen such childish reactions as we have seen this last week....folks calm down and let this thing play out...CDD doesnt seem to be panicking...will it tranlate to victories??? I dont know...but lets show a speck of maturity.... Plus all I heard throughout the season was "Lets get rid of Hiestand NOW!!!....he's gone...so surely that makes the screamers happy...

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Smokey says this is a solid hire:

http://www.tarheelblue.com/sports/m-f...

OrangePsyched writes:

Before volinsouthcarolina or whatever he calls himself posts on here 43 times let me say this looks like a good hire. That said..why is this filled so quickly and we are taking so long on DC?

LJS1984 writes:

Hiestand's Offensive Line last season took a step backwards. I'm not at all disappointed that we have a new coach coming in.

BigBadVol writes:

in response to tennrich1:

This should help calm everybody just a little...man i have never seen such childish reactions as we have seen this last week....folks calm down and let this thing play out...CDD doesnt seem to be panicking...will it tranlate to victories??? I dont know...but lets show a speck of maturity.... Plus all I heard throughout the season was "Lets get rid of Hiestand NOW!!!....he's gone...so surely that makes the screamers happy...

Excellent post.

bvol1inSC writes:

OrangePsyched...much easier position to fill.

givehim6 writes:

CDD is looking to the ACC to replace UT's coaches, Steele is ACC also.

SummittsCourt writes:

"Considered one of the top recruiters in the country by ESPN.com, Pittman also has been credited with landing the offensive tackles rated No. 2 in the nation in each of the last two recruiting seasons."

Throw tons of money at him and get him on board.

orange_eVOLution writes:

Excellent hire.

SummittsCourt writes:

in response to tennrich1:

This should help calm everybody just a little...man i have never seen such childish reactions as we have seen this last week....folks calm down and let this thing play out...CDD doesnt seem to be panicking...will it tranlate to victories??? I dont know...but lets show a speck of maturity.... Plus all I heard throughout the season was "Lets get rid of Hiestand NOW!!!....he's gone...so surely that makes the screamers happy...

Nothing outside of Peyton Manning riding in on a white horse to take over the offense will make the screamers happy... nothing.

This hire and Sunseri would be a real sign that Dooley knows what he is doing and we will be fine.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to RockyTopRenegade:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

nice post.

chl1958 writes:

The word for 2012 is change and let's do it with a good attitude. We are on the way back;can't you just feel it. It is happening with our VOLS; if you believe, it can happen in your personal life also!

flafan2001 writes:

in response to volnvette03:

Though I am not fond of UNC, he should help us prepare for our opener with NC State!!

You must be an NC State fan. UNC has lost to NC State 5 years in a row with the line blocking a big reason.

jimr07 writes:

in response to buzz29:

Sounds promising.

Wait 'til the nattering nabobs of negatavism read it..

FWBVol writes:

Sometimes it isn't that a coach doesn't know what he is doing, but rather how he communicates it to a certain group of kids.

Harry Hiestand undoubtably has a great coaching background and must be a pretty good coach if ND wants him. But this might be a case of him necessarily relating well to the UT O-lineman after having spent several years in the NFL.

I like getting a college guy with nothing but college coaching as the OL coach. He should be able to relate to these young men.

FLVOL_79 writes:

All I care about is if he can get the O-line to blow up some holes for the RB's next year..

volfan-for-life writes:

Good hire for ol coach.we have waited all week for a dc i expect we will hear something from Dooley and Hart friday, if we dont i will not know what to think. my main worry is losing recruits
go big orange

crimsonviper writes:

Solid hire..IMO

tennrich1 writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Nothing outside of Peyton Manning riding in on a white horse to take over the offense will make the screamers happy... nothing.

This hire and Sunseri would be a real sign that Dooley knows what he is doing and we will be fine.

Point well taken, SummittCourt....sad but true....

Ironcity writes:

Sounds like a good hire. Now was that so difficult. Lets get a linebacker coach, a Tight ends ST coach, and a DC.

Thermopyle writes:

How much baggage from the Butch Davis saga comes with him?

HallowedHill writes:

Great hire! 1 down, 3 to go.

GO VOLS!

proud2btnvol (Inactive) writes:

in response to givehim6:

CDD is looking to the ACC to replace UT's coaches, Steele is ACC also.

Steele was at Alabama before Clemson.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to Thermopyle:

How much baggage from the Butch Davis saga comes with him?

Only what you add.

MOOREVOLS writes:

in response to Thermopyle:

How much baggage from the Butch Davis saga comes with him?

None.

Orange_Pants_Buy_One_Get_One_Free writes:

The problem is he will be working under Fooley. Nothing changes. The irrelevance continues.

Keep Fooley

GloryDays writes:

You would have to say this is an upgraded. Pittman is a better OL coach and a much better recruiter. We need someone to light a fire under some of our Offensive linemen. There was no fire or passion or aggression out of the OL last year.

MOOREVOLS writes:

in response to Orange_Pants_Buy_One_Get_One_Free:

The problem is he will be working under Fooley. Nothing changes. The irrelevance continues.

Keep Fooley

Idiot.

letthebigdoghunt writes:

http://www.coachingsearch.com/ Don't know if it's true or not but here it is?

GloryDays writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

Nothing outside of Peyton Manning riding in on a white horse to take over the offense will make the screamers happy... nothing.

This hire and Sunseri would be a real sign that Dooley knows what he is doing and we will be fine.

If we could have beaten a bad Kentucky team with a 3rd string QB, and finished 6-6. Most Vol fans would have taken that along with a decent bowl preformance and been ok. That is not too much to ask for, is it? When you lose to UK and have no fire or desire and a rotten loser attitude, it makes real fans upset!

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to jimr07:

Wait 'til the nattering nabobs of negatavism read it..

I did read it. I am a naybob. And, I approve of the hire. Unfortunately, we were not signing any OL in this class so the speed of this hire was not as critical as the DC. But, I approve. He will do well.

But, when it comes to the HC and the OC, I am an NB.

volnsc writes:

in response to OrangePsyched:

Before volinsouthcarolina or whatever he calls himself posts on here 43 times let me say this looks like a good hire. That said..why is this filled so quickly and we are taking so long on DC?

Hope you aren't talking about me. I haven't posted 43 posts total in my life. But do like to read. GBO

twin942 writes:

in response to OrangePsyched:

Before volinsouthcarolina or whatever he calls himself posts on here 43 times let me say this looks like a good hire. That said..why is this filled so quickly and we are taking so long on DC?

Amen Brother Orange.

I like anyone succeeding Heistand; I'll take my chances with anyone else. But damn, this DC thing is a mess. As several articles have already pointed out, this was CDD's chance to make a splash and restore confidence in the program. So far, nothing, and we are in the middle of recruiting.

I am not convinced that anyone from Saban's staff will work; Saban is the man behind the curtain of that defense and the rest are simply unproven commodities. Didnt Kevin Steele work on Saban's staff? The guy that just got canned?

I say promote Lance Thompson and let him build his staff. That or go get Chief back.

traderjoe writes:

Interesting...is he bringing anyone with him?

VolInIndy writes:

Plus, Harry has to give us around 188K for his release, doesn't he?

volfreak#210492 writes:

in response to givehim6:

CDD is looking to the ACC to replace UT's coaches, Steele is ACC also.

SIMSVOL writes:

Great hire. Nice job Dooley. More coaching upgrades on the way with the new DC and ST coach. Go VOLS!

Classof72 writes:

Thank goodness. This may well be an upgrade in both coaching and recruiting. Nicely done, as far as one can tell.

thevoice writes:

Sounds like a good hire! Love that he's an excellent recruiter, which is perhaps the best trait of all.

Olcrow writes:

The last time I saw this guy coach,the Tarheels were in a bowl game, his OL did a pretty good job in pass pro. and seemed to open running lanes pretty consistently but then at the end of the game his team came up short.What happened next you're not gonna believe,the referees said "wait just a minute here nobody's won nothing yet,we must play on" and so it went that coach Pittman's team escaped with a victory! Man this guy's gonna bring us luck!

BankerVol writes:

in response to Orange_Pants_Buy_One_Get_One_Free:

The problem is he will be working under Fooley. Nothing changes. The irrelevance continues.

Keep Fooley

The problem is that we have to endure the constant negativity from you and those like you.

You are pathetic.

Ayres_Hall writes:

The timing might suggest that Coach Pittman was recruited first and ol' Harry was then asked to look around.

dislikethemtrolls writes:

in response to toddyboy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Back for some more Toddlerboy?

MidTennVol writes:

This is odd. They replace Hiestand before he has been hired at Notre Dame? He "resigned to pursue other coaching opportunities?" And he's immediately replaced? Before he has another job?

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