In a press release today on UTSports.com, the University of Tennessee has confirmed that UNC offensive line coach Sam Pittman will join the staff to replace former Vols offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, who has resigned to pursue other coaching opportunities.
Pittman, who has spent the last five season at North Carolina, began his coaching career as a grad assistant at his alma mater, Pittsburg State. After spending eight years coaching at high schools and junior colleges in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, Pittman took a job at NIU in 1994.
Following a stint with the Huskies, Pittman took a position in Cincinnati to coach tackles and tight ends for the Bearcats. Since then he has coached the offensive lines at stops at Oklahoma, Western Michigan, Missouri, and Kansas before heading back to Northern Illinois.
During his second stint in DeKalb, Pittman's offensive lines made a name for themselves, paving the way for four consecutive 1,500-yard rushers, including Garret Wolfe, who ran for over 1,900-yards in 2006.
At North Carolina, Pittman also added the role of associate head coach to his resume. In Chapel Hill, he also earned a reputation as a solid recruiter, making ESPN's list of the Top 25 recruiters in the country.
Pittman will be replacing Harry Hiestand, who is rumored to be in play for the vacant offensive line coaching position at Notre Dame. Hiestand, who built a solid reputation for placing lineman in the NFL under Ron Turner at Illinois, largely struggled to develop any continuity on the offensive line over the past two seasons.
Despite improved pass protection in 2011, the Vols struggled to establish any resemblance of a ground game, finishing at the bottom of the SEC in rushing in both 2010 and 2011.
Pittman, on the other hand, led an offensive line that helped UNC average 6.3 yards per play in 2011, which was good for second-best in the ACC. Pittman also gives the Vols inroads into the Carolinas, as well as the Midwest and Southwest as an Oklahoma native.
Pittman joins running backs coach Jay Graham as a new addition to the Vols staff for the 2012 season, and the Vols are still looking to fill three coaching vacancies. Navy's Buddy Green reportedly interviewed for the vacant DC position in Knoxville today.