FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ Sam Pittman held a Zoom presser about the No. 21 Hogs landing in the Outback Bowl.
Arkansas (8-4) and Penn State (7-5) will meet for the first on the football field New Year’s Day at 11 a.m. (Central) and televised on ESPN2. Since the bowl announcements were just released Pittman didn’t know much about Penn State at this time as far as indepth scouting.
“Just want to say we’re so excited to play in a New Year’s Day bowl against a great opponent in Penn State University,” Pittman said. “It’s been an exciting day for us, the University of Arkansas and our program. Can’t wait to get down to the sunshine of Tampa, Florida and eat a couple of Bloomin’ Onions.”
Former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin is at Penn State. Pittman was asked how much he has crossed paths with Franklin?
“No, I haven’t,” Pittman said. “I’ve met Coach Franklin, but I don’t know him much better than that. Just a lot of really positive things that people who have worked with him have said about him. Highly successful guy. Highly intelligent guy. Great football mind. Certainly, Penn State is one of the storied programs in the country. Coach (Dowell) Loggains worked up there before the summer as an analyst before we were able to hire him back. He probably would know a little bit more and be able to answer your question better.”
How much will you pick Loggains’ brain on the Nittany Lions?
“I haven’t seen Dowell since, well, that’s not true,” Pittman said. “He came in and was excited about the bowl and I was walking out to do a home visit. That would certainly be something we talk to him about to see, might be more personnel driven than anything, but certainly we would ask him about. We have 12 videos, 12 films,12 games as well, but he might know something a little bit more about personnel.”
Franklin has led Penn State to a 67-32 record in eight seasons, including a 2016 Big Ten championship, just the second outright Big Ten title for the team since the Nittany Lions joined the league in 1993.
As far as his own team Pittman feels they will be excited and very motivated to play this game.
“I think they’re unbelievably excited,” Pittman said. “There’s not many of them in there that’s been to a bowl. So, to get to a New Year’s Day bowl, and one as prestigious as the Outback Bowl, they’ll be ready and they’ll be excited. It’ll make practice a little bit easier for them I would say.”
Pittman said he didn’t get a chance to talk to the team about the bowl selection since it was already on social media.
“I wish I had the opportunity to do some of those things,” Pittman said. “I think Twitter and Google, or whatever, had it out before I found out about it. It was out. Hunter (Yurachek) called me and told me we were going to get the invite to the Outback Bowl, and they’d be calling in a few minutes. I said ‘That’s awesome.’
“We’d had several official visits in. They were wrapping up and getting ready to leave. I just came out of a home visit now. So, I haven’t had a lot of time. I was able to talk to the officials at the Outback Bowl. They extended the offer. Of course, Mr. (Greg) Sankey called from the SEC and extended that. Whenever they said Outback Bowl, I was proud of that. I’m proud of our football team, our coaches, our assistant coaches. I’m very happy. We didn’t send anything out to the team because Lord knows we know they look at their phones all the time, so I’m sure they already knew it.”
As noted this will be the first time Arkansas has not only played Penn State, but the initial time to be in the Outback Bowl.
“I think it’s something the kids have accomplished, the assistant coaches have accomplished,” Pittman said. “I mean, I don’t know if they accomplished us playing Penn State, you know, but I think that just happened. We’re excited to play a team like Penn State. A lot of tradition there, good football coach, good players. I’m happy for the state of Arkansas, happy to get down there and get us some nice weather. I heard it’s 82 or something today. Get down there, have a little fun.”
The first practice for Arkansas will be on Friday.