Kurt Anderson seems like a Great Fit with Arkansas Football, Bret Bielema

Sep 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Sebastian Tretola (73) in action with tackle Jeremiah Levbetter (55) against the Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Sebastian Tretola (73) in action with tackle Jeremiah Levbetter (55) against the Texas A&M Aggies at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

Bret Bielema has become known for finding great assistants in odd places, such as Samford and Central Michigan. Is former Buffalo Bills OL coach Kurt Anderson Bret’s next big hire?

Arkansas football head coach Bret Bielema has finally found his new offensive line coach, and he came a long…long way from the SEC. Kurt Anderson, a former Michigan standout on the O-line and, until last week, an offensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills, is an interesting hire for the head Hog.

Some fans were left scratching their heads. Former Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman was a recruiter more than a coach. His loss was felt immediately by the Hogs on the recruiting trail. I’m not saying he wasn’t a good coach; he was. I’m saying he was a better recruiter than a coach.

So when Bielema and the Hogs announced a young NFL assistant would be the new OL coach, you can understand why some people were not exactly enthralled. The most experience that Anderson has as a recruiter was an Eastern Michigan, and he is a pretty young guy compared to other position coaches in the SEC.

There are two things that Hog fans need to realize about Kurt Anderson. 1) He wasn’t hired to replace Pittman on the recruiting trail. And 2) He is exactly what Bret Bielema was looking for in a coach. Anderson is loud, passionate, driven, young, and, most importantly, has seen success everywhere he’s went.

First, let’s talk about recruiting. You don’t try and replace Sam Pittman. He has his own way of doing things on the recruiting trail, and it’s what has made him such a sought after asset on coaching staffs. What Anderson lacks in traditional recruiting reputation, he more than makes up for in background, pedigree, and personality.

Anyone that is being recruited by a D-1 program is going to want to know how to get to the next level. Kurt Anderson knows exactly what it takes to get to the NFL. He was a player there for a short time, he’s coached there for a few years, and, as his tweet above stated, his family has 16 years of NFL experience. That’s valuable knowledge to a recruit.

Recruiting in modern football is less about finding recruits and is more about connecting with them. Sure, you want a coach that can find the underrated 2 and 3 star guys that turn into All-Americans. But thanks to national recruiting services, HD videos on youtube, and the internet in general, you can make a list of 20 recruits per position without leaving your office. The hard part is getting out and connecting with a recruit and his family. Which is what Bret Bielema is so good at doing, and what I think coach Bielema sees in Kurt Anderson as well.

The reason I’m excited about Anderson is his personality. He’s a firecracker of a man. Loud, confident, and dedicated to his craft. In ten years, he went from a tight ends coach at Indiana to the assistant offensive line coach for an NFL team. At some point in there, you’d have to assume he had the opportunity to do something other than coach lineman. But here he is, 11 years into coach, and his twitter handle says OLINEPRIDE and he’s made his way into the SEC to coach in a place that just had “the biggest offensive line in football”.

For me, it’s not a matter of IF he connects with recruits and their families, but WHEN. An offseason of making the rounds and meeting the right people and recruits, and I’m expecting him to have continued success at this position. Whatever it is that Bret Bielema saw in Anderson, it was enough for him to take a chance and hire a guy that hadn’t been on a recruiting trip in 3 or 4 years.

I see a lot of Bielema in Anderson, and I think that Bret does as well. I’m not saying he’s looking for a padawan, but would it really surprise you if it turned out that way? Coach Bielema has put together a very talented staff going into year 4 of his time in Arkansas, and Anderson is the newest addition in an island of misplaced coaches.

Bielema is from Iowa and made his name at Wisconsin. Robb Smith made his name at Rutgers. Dan Enos started at Michigan State before ending up at Central Michigan. Jemal Singleton cut his chops at Air Force and Oklahoma State before coming into Arkansas. Vernon Hargreaves has spent time in Miami, Connecticut, and Houston before ending up on the Hill. Clay Jennings is a Texas man, who came here from TCU. Barry Lunney Jr. is an Arkansas boy who was an offensive coordinator at San Jose State at one point. Rory Segrest came to Arkansas from Samford, and Michael Smith joined the Hogs after spending time at Kansas State and Arizona.

The University of Arkansas' 2015 football media guide features the Razorbacks' projected offensive line. From left to right: Dan Skipper, Frank Ragnow, Mitch Smothers and Denver Kirkland.
The University of Arkansas’ 2015 football media guide features the Razorbacks’ projected offensive line. From left to right: Dan Skipper, Frank Ragnow, Mitch Smothers, Sebastian Tretola and Denver Kirkland. /

So the calm down, Hog fans who think you have to be from Texas or Arkansas to have success here. This is a staff that is almost totally comprised of outsiders to the SEC. And despite a slow start this year, they’re starting to see success in both recruiting and on-field performance. The “big 10 offense” that Bielema and Enos have put in place in Fayetteville just had both a RB and a QB break records in the same season.

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Which is why when Kurt Anderson was announced as the offensive line coach, I didn’t try and compare him to Pittman. Bret Bielema isn’t interested in comparing players and coaches to the past. He’s interested in who can help him have success in the future. And whether it’s Robb Smith, Dan Enos, or now Kurt Anderson…I think it’s safe to say that Bielema knows what he’s doing.

Welcome to Fayetteville and the SEC, Coach Anderson.

Woo Pig.