Changes to the Buffalo Bills’ coaching staff seemed inevitable after a disappointing 8-8 season.
They started late Saturday night when assistant offensive line coach Kurt Anderson, 37, announced he’s leaving to take a job at Arkansas. Anderson will be the Razorbacks’ offensive line coach.
“Once this position on our staff opened up I heard from a lot of NCAA and NFL coaches who were interested,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said in a statement announcing Anderson’s hiring. “Kurt stood out to me when he interviewed and he’s stood out to every coach he’s worked and played for. His ability to relate to the players and connect with them will help him have a tremendous impact on our program, not only as a position coach, but as a recruiter. I’m very happy to have him joining our staff and helping us pursue our goals at the University of Arkansas.”
Anderson served as the Bills’ interim offensive line coach for the first six weeks of the 2015 season because offensive line coach Aaron Kromer was suspended.
At the conclusion of that stint, Bills coach Rex Ryan praised Anderson for the job that he did, indicating it would be only a matter of time before he got to coach a line of his own. That time came Saturday.
“I’ve been around a lot of great coaches and Kurt is one of them,” Ryan said in Arkansas’ statement. “Kurt can coach anywhere in the country and at any level. He’s smart, loyal, tough and players will love to play for him. He’s a guy that gives you his word and you can take it to the bank. I’m proud to have coached with him and the Arkansas offensive linemen are to lucky to have him. I know how big of a hire this is for Coach Bielema and I can promise he got the right guy.”
The Bills led the NFL in rushing yards per game (152.0) and yards per rush (4.8) in 2015. Center Eric Wood and left guard Richie Incognito are both alternates to the Pro Bowl.
“I’m really excited for Kurt,” Wood said in the school’s release. “He is a great coach and will do a great job at Arkansas. I learned a lot from him during his time with the Bills and I know he will bring a lot to the table for Arkansas.”
Anderson coached with the Bills for three years. Prior to that, he spent five seasons at Eastern Michigan after two at his alma mater, Michigan. As a player with the Wolverines, Anderson won the Hugh R. Rader Jr. Memorial Award as the team’s top offensive lineman and was selected All-Big Ten honorable mention following the 2001 season.
“I couldn’t be more excited for my family and I to join the Arkansas family,” said Anderson, the father of five. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity to be part of such a storied program with great tradition, in the SEC and in a community that is perfect for my family. I believe strongly in what Coach Bielema is building and the way he’s building it and can’t wait to get to work. I know my approach and philosophies will blend well with his and it’ll be fun to see what can be accomplished.
“I’m so thankful to head coach Rex Ryan and the Bills organization for everything they have done for me during my time in Western New York. It was a difficult decision to leave a community that has been so good to me and my family and that is so passionate about the Bills. During my visit to Arkansas, I got the same passionate feeling about the Razorbacks and I can’t wait for my family to be part of it.”