State of the Hogs: Anderson Hits Ground Running with Fun Opening Act as New O-line Coach

Kurt Anderson hits the ground running with fun opening media session. The new Arkansas O-line coach showed a dynamic personality that attracted head coach Bret Bielema.

It takes about two minutes of a Kurt Anderson interview to know why Bret Bielema thinks he'll be a dynamic offensive line coach at Arkansas.

Well, I'll leave the judgment on whether or not Anderson can coach technique to Bielema, but it's clear why the Arkansas head coach believes his hire from the NFL can be a dynamic recruiter.

Anderson had the wow factor Saturday when he met with the Arkansas media for the first time after Bielema hired him one week ago to fill the spot left open by Sam Pittman, another dynamic recruiter.

The first thing Anderson did was point out the age of the electronic devices put in front of him by the Arkansas beat writers. He held up one ancient device and noted that it was “old school.” Anderson pointed out that others in the room were “advanced” in their technology.

It wasn't just an accident. His ability to use technology is an apparent strength and something Bielema thinks important with today's players. Anderson has sent clever tweets already. He apologized to his players that he's had to use texts, twitter and Facebook to make early connections with them since they are home for the semester break and he's headed out of town soon to recruit.

Anderson's personality came through as he visited with the media for 30 minutes. He stopped in the middle when KNWA reporter Alyssa Orange dropped her phone. He asked somone to identify her then apologized for singling her out. It was a fun moment.

It's clear Anderson likes to have fun. He said it's the way he coaches. He said football is a fun game and if you don't make it a game, then you are not in the right business.

“I'm energetic, I coach positive and I can be loud,” he said. “This is a game to be celebrated. It's a fun game. You can't ever lose sight that it's a fun game.

“Coach B said something in the interview that I find myself saying. You come away thinking that as a coach you never worked a day in your life. The game of football has given me unbelievable opportunities. I've met presidents, movie stars – things normal people wouldn't get to do.”

Anderson has respected Bielema from afar and knew the opening would be one he'd seek when Pittman left for Georgia one month ago. He said Lloyd Carr, his college coach at Michigan, always said great things about Bielema when he was at Wisconsin.

“When I was a GA for Coach Carr, I got a chance to hear what he said about Coach Bielema in our staff meetings,” Anderson said. “Coach Carr is like a father to me. He always spoke highly of Bret. I was privy to his words. I always listened when Coach B was at clinics or talking in a news conference. When great coaches recognize another great coach, it makes an impact on you.”

Bielema said the final four candidates for the job were all in the NFL last year. Several had coached at the pro level for as long as 15 years. But Anderson, with only three years in the NFL, stood out because of his background as a recruiter at Eastern Michigan. Another plus was a recommendation from Dan Enos, the UA offensive coordinator who coached against him as the head coach at Central Michigan.

Anderson wowed Bielema with the interview.

"You can now a recruiter when they walk into the room, you know someone with a dynamic personality who is organized,” Bielema said. “He is a very, very detailed, organized. … so much of today is technology driven. The packets and the things that he prepared for me were off the charts.

“I know some recruiting service had labeled him as the Chicago area recruiter of the year  out of Eastern Michigan which isn’t a normal thing. I reached out to three high school coaches that he had recruited players and asked why they went there. I got he same response.

“Over prepared, great work ethic, honest, integrity, just all the things you could ask for in a recruiter. He will be very dynamic. As you know I don’t hire resumes, I hire people. I really don’t care what the outside world feels. I go by what I feel and what I see. He checked off in every category.”

Anderson went hard after the job. He said he realized several weeks ago that he wanted it, but waited until after the NFL season was over two weeks ago to make the big push. And, he seemed to suggest he was growing impatient with Bielema's process when it appeared others were under consideration.

“I saw that Coach Pittman had left and immediately I thought I'd be a fit,” Anderson said. “The style of football that Coach B plays, what Coach Enos believes is all so in line with what I teach, I thought it would be a fit.

“If Coach B had held out much longer, I was going to camp in front of the door just because I believe in what we can accomplish together.”

Anderson loves the talent level. And he thinks he'll mesh quickly with the room. He said it's the nature of the position for there to be smooth transitions. He also thinks working with Rex Ryan at Buffalo is similar to working with Bielema. Both are viewed as players coaches.

“The offensive line is the easiest transition,” he said. “It's the nature of the human beings. They are very welcoming. I pride myself in being that same type of guy.

“I do think it will be a smooth transition with Coach B. He is very similar to Coach Ryan. They are players coaches and coaches coaches. Both are known to inspire their players and their coaches. They have similar qualities. Sometimes that gets lost in the day of high stakes football. He's always done it the right way, building a program around people.”

Anderson will recruit the Chicago area, along with East Texas. Bielema thinks Anderson will look good rolling into Texas in cowboy boots.

“I've recruited there before, but I have gone all over the country,” he said. “I've recruited the Kansas junior colleges, Texas junior colleges and California junior colleges. But I do think Chicagoland is my niche. I think we can go up against the Big 10 there and they will like the SEC.”

Bielema does like the Chicago connection.

“I think I am going to let him have Chicago a little bit,” Bielema said. “He has a great reputation there and I think that’s something that could really be open forum and I would like to put him in East Texas. I think he has a personality that is big and bold and could roll in there pretty good with a pair of cowboy boots.

“And then the NCAA, unless something happens dramatically, they are going to allow us to go off campus for these one day camps, satellite camps. I could see us going into Detroit, going into Chicago, maybe Wisconsin or Minnesota just because of my experiences up there and going into Ohio. Maybe just take a week with my staff and kind take a midwest swing.”

Anderson did not talk about specific players, but he has spent the last several days studying the returning players. He watched all 13 games, plus practice tape.

“I see physical traits,” he said. “It's not just what you would want in college, but what you'd want in the NFL. It made me perk up. Obviously, we have a chance to build something special.

“We are losing some guys, but what I watched of the player development, I'm intrigued.”

Anderson gave his expectations for the position as he was making his way out of the media session.

“I want our offensive line to be smart, be tough and nasty,” he said. “And I want it to be fun.”

That came across no matter if you were recording it with a high tech phone or reel to reel. Even those bouncing their phones on the carpet got it, too.


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