The coaching carousel continues to spin for Arkansas football, as multiple reports surfaced Friday night that cornerbacks coach Dominique Bowman will not return in 2023.
With the Razorbacks and Bowman parting ways, head coach Sam Pittman is once again in the market for an assistant coach. He has already replaced three, all of whom left Fayetteville for promotions.
Bowman is leaving Arkansas after just one season, which was the length of contract that began Jan. 27 last year. His deal ends Feb. 28 and paid him an annual salary of $350,000.
The 37-year-old coach spent the 2021 campaign in the same position at Marshall, which marked his first season at the FBS level. He coached at a pair of FCS programs — UT-Martin and Austin Peay — and is only six years removed from breaking into the college ranks at Arkansas-Monticello, a Division II program in the state.
His departure comes on the heels of a rough season for the Razorbacks’ secondary. Arkansas allowed 294.7 passing yards per game, which is the most in school history and ranked dead last in the FBS this season.
However, it would be unfair to place all of the blame for that on Bowman. Several defensive backs missed multiple games, including preseason All-American safety Jalen Catalon going down with a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 1.
Bowman was also specifically responsible for the cornerbacks, a position group that got consistent play from Dwight McGlothern — the Razorbacks’ second-highest graded player on defense (77.2) behind only first-team AP All-American Drew Sanders, according to Pro Football Focus — and featured a true freshman in Quincey McAdoo who moved from wide receiver to cornerback mid-season and still earned Freshman All-SEC honors.
That latter point illustrated just how thin Arkansas was in the secondary and it’s only gotten worse since the end of the regular season, with nine scholarship defensive backs entering the portal. Several of them were non-factors on this year’s defense, but the list does include some significant contributors: Catalon, Simeon Blair, Khari Johnson and Myles Slusher.
Bowman was also a key in the Razorbacks bringing in a large group of defensive backs in the 2023 season. The six-man class is highlighted by a pair of four-star prospects in Jaylon Braxton and TJ Metcalf.
Arkansas Football Coaching Staff Changes
The departure of defensive coordinator Barry Odom to become the head coach at UNLV likely spelled the end of Dominique Bowman’s time in Fayetteville.
Odom was instrumental in hiring Bowman because the pair first met when the latter was still coaching in high school and the former was the Memphis defensive coordinator.
Pittman has since hired Travis Williams from UCF to be the Razorbacks’ defensive coordinator and brought in Marcus Woodson from Florida State as a co-defensive coordinator. That pair previously worked together at Auburn, so it seems Williams has a fairly prominent hand in assembling Arkansas’ defensive staff.
In addition to his coordinator duties, Williams is expected to coach the linebackers. That is a role previously held by Michael Scherer, who has since left to become Odom’s defensive coordinator at UNLV.
Woodson is a defensive backs coach by trade, so he’ll likely coach either the entire secondary or one of the groups within the secondary — cornerbacks or safeties. Those roles had been split between Bowman and Odom, respectively, in 2022.
If the Razorbacks take that latter route, they’ll likely replace Bowman with another defensive backs coach who could focus on the other position in the secondary. However, they could also potentially hire another defensive line coach and split up the defensive end and defensive tackle duties.
As things currently stand, defensive line coach Deke Adams is the lone holdover on the defensive staff. He was also working on a one-year contract in 2022, but appears to be staying based on his inclusion in a photo with visiting transfer wide receiver Isaac TeSlaa on Friday.
The Razorbacks also got some good news from offensive coordinator Kendal Briles, who was heavily pursued by Mississippi State, but chose to remain in Fayetteville. He’s expected to get an extension and pay raise.
Here’s a look at the staff changes during Pittman’s tenure as the Arkansas football coach:
- OC: Kendal Briles
- STC: Scott Fountain
- RB: Jimmy Smith
- DC: Barry Odom (UNLV HC) —> Travis Williams
- WR: Justin Stepp (South Carolina WR) —> Kenny Guiton
- TE: Jon Cooper (fired) —> Cody Kennedy (Arkansas OL) —> Dowell Loggains (South Carolina OC) —> Morgan Turner
- OL: Brady Davis (LSU OL) —> Cody Kennedy
- DL: Derrick LeBlanc (fired) —> Jermial Ashley (fired) —> Deke Adams
- LB: Rion Rhoades (fired) —> Michael Scherer (UNLV DC) —> Marcus Woodson (co-DC/likely secondary)
- CB: Sam Carter (Ole Miss CB) —> Dominique Bowman (not retained) —> ????
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