FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman’s second Razorback team will face a challenging schedule once again in 2021, but then again what’s new?
An SEC schedule is always tough and Arkansas has Texas as one of its four non-conference foes this fall. The Hogs and Longhorns were the two dominant teams most years in the old Southwest Conference. As crazy as this may seem, this fall’s game may be the last time the two meet as non-conference opponents. According to various reports Texas, along with Oklahoma, is heading to the SEC.
At Thursday’s SEC Media Days, Pittman was asked about the rumors of Texas and OU jumping ship at the Big 12.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Pittman said. “I really haven’t thought about that much. I’m so nervous about the schedule we have coming up and all that, I haven’t paid much attention about it.
“I will say this: I know we’re going to play Texas this year. We play them September 11th, and we’re very excited for that. I apologize, I really haven’t thought about it much.”
The Hogs will only have three SEC games in Fayetteville this year, but does get all four non-conference foes inside the state including Texas in Fayetteville. Missouri, Mississippi State and Auburn will come to Fayetteville. Rice and Georgia Southern are the other non-conference teams playing in Fayetteville. The Hogs will take on UAPB Saturday, Oct. 23, in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium. The Hogs will be the designated home team against Texas A&M in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
That means the Hogs will travel to Georgia, Alabama, LSU and Ole Miss for SEC games.
“Well, you’ve just got to take them one week at a time,” Pittman said. “We have eight in a row, eight games in a row, very conscious about that. Then we have a bye, and then of course we finish with the Final Four.
For us to have a successful season we’re going to have to stay healthy. Our depth is much better than it was a year ago, but it’s certainly not where we want it to be. We’ve got to be very conscious of that eight-game stretch. Of course, you’re right, we have three games right there in a row where we’re on the road. Certainly, we will tweak possibly what we do at practice depending on who we have available, and certainly the vibe, the feel of our football team physically.”
Pittman talked some more about the schedule during his time on Thursday.
“On our football schedule we are the defending National Champions of the hardest football schedule in college,” Pittman said. “I look towards next year, and I think we’re going to three-peat in that area next year. However, we’re the University of Arkansas, in the [SEC West], exactly where we belong, and we’re excited about those challenges.
“We’re going to renew some old Southwest Conference rivalries the first two weeks of the season in Donald W. Reynolds Stadium and Rice. Rice is very, very physical. Beat Marshall. I believe they were the first team to beat Marshall when Marshall was 7-0, ranked in the top 20 in the country. Very well-coached team. We’re excited to renew that rivalry in our stadium.
“The second week we play the University of Texas, and I’m not for sure if anybody’s called a much better game than Coach (Steve) Sarkisian did in the National Championship Game when he was offensive coordinator at Alabama. So we have high respect for both of those teams.
“Obviously, the older folks in the state of Arkansas are revved up about the Texas game. I read something where at one point during that rivalry, if you had Arkansas tags and you cross into the Texas border on an away game, that you were not going to be sold any gas until you got back into Arkansas. Now, whether that’s true or not I don’t know, but if it is true, now that’s a rivalry.”
Pittman also reminded Greg Sankey the Hogs will face Georgia again after the two met in 2020.
“Crossover game this year is with Georgia,” Pittman said. “I was going to ask Commissioner Sankey if Georgia’s moved over to the SEC West because we played them two years in a row. With Georgia, we’re excited to go back there. Jamie and I have such outstanding friends there, certainly on the coaching staff.
“And the reason I mention Georgia, one, it’s our crossover game, but the other is because of the indebtedness that I feel towards Kirby Smart. Kirby was very good to me. I wouldn’t be the head coach at University of Arkansas without him.”
After Eliah Drinkwitz took a bit of a shot at the Arkansas program on Thursday, Pittman was asked about it.
“I think it’s a very good rivalry,” Pittman said. “Honestly, we haven’t been on the winning side of that the last five years. I think the last time we beat Missouri was my last year at Arkansas as the offensive line coach. Certainly, when Barry was the head coach over there, they beat Arkansas four times in a row.
“So it’s probably any time — it might be a little bit more of a rivalry for the people that are getting their butt kicked. I don’t know. You’d have to ask Eli. But we’ve been getting ours done, and I love the fact that Missouri is close to us. Eli and I are good friends, but at the same time, we’re very competitive as well. I’m glad we look at Arkansas-Missouri as our No. 1 rival.”
Click here for complete 2021 Arkansas schedule.