Report: Arkansas OC Jim Chaney leaving for Pittsburgh
Jim Chaney is leaving Arkansas just as the program appears to have returned to Southeastern Conference relevance.
The offensive coordinator, known for his dynamic passing offenses at schools such as Purdue and Tennessee, has left the Razorbacks to accept the same position at Pittsburgh, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Sunday night.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because Chaney’s departure hasn’t been announced.
The move was first reported by Sports Illustrated.
Chaney, who turned 53 on Monday, joins longtime Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi — who was hired as Pittsburgh’s head coach last month after Paul Chryst left to take the Wisconsin job.
While at Arkansas the past two seasons, Chaney also coached Arkansas’ quarterbacks under head coach Bret Bielema. The Razorbacks reached a bowl game for the first time in three seasons last year, finishing 7-6 after a Texas Bowl win over Texas.
Arkansas averaged 31.9 points in its second season under Chaney, up from 20.7 in his first season in 2013. The Razorbacks also jumped from 99th to 60th nationally in total offense this season, increasing their yards per game from an average of 357.2 to 406.
Also, quarterback Brandon Allen threw 20 touchdown passes and five interceptions after completing less than 50 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions the previous season.
Chaney was heading into the final year of a three-year, $550,000 annual contract with the Razorbacks. The school signed defensive coordinator Robb Smith to a three-year contract last week, at which time it said a new deal for Chaney was being finalized.
However, Chaney — who has also coached in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams — has elected to split from what has long appeared an odd mix with the balanced offensive approach of Bielema.
Much of Chaney’s coaching success has come in the passing game, where he has tutored standout quarterbacks such as Drew Brees while with the Boilermakers from 1997-2005. He also oversaw the development of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, who broke the Volunteers single-game passing record with 530 yards passing in 2012.
Chaney leaves behind an Arkansas offense that returns 1,000-yard running backs Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins next season, along with All-SEC honorable mention tight end Hunter Henry and Allen for his senior season.