FAYETTEVILLE — Sam Pittman is now less than a month from coaching his first game in charge of the University of Arkansas program.
He was an assistant for three years, but has now returned as the head coach. His squad will open the season on Saturday, Sept. 26, by hosting Georgia in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. When Pittman left Arkansas following the 2015 season he went to Georgia where he coached for four years.
Here’s three thoughts from Pittman.
Pittman was asked how you coach guys up to be mentally tough?
“First of all, I believe you have to be mentally tough before you can be physically tough,” Pittman said. “And so you have to work on them, in my opinion, in that order. The bottom line is, mental toughness, you see. In other words, I took a shot. Am I going to get up? Am I going to go back to the sideline? Am I going to go to the trainer? Or am I going to go play another play? If they’re injured, we don’t want them out there. But if they can practice, we want them to fight through the practice and let us decide whether they can go full speed or can they go individual drills and things of that nature. Before if you’re out, you’re just out. You don’t practice individual, you don’t practice one-on-one pass pro, you don’t practice back pedaling.”
Coordinators, Not Offensive Line Coaches Hired to Run Programs
When Hunter Yurachek hired Pittman away from Georgia he did something many athletic directors don’t do and that is hire someone who isn’t a coordinator. Pittman talked about his thoughts on an offensive line coach getting an offer to run a program.
“Yeah, you know, it’s a coordinator world,” Pittman said. “But the bottom line is, a coordinator, he’s going to be privy, he’s going to know things about every place, but he’s probably going to have his expertise at the quarterback spot, the throwing game, things of that nature. You’re O-line coach is going to have expertise at the protection game, at the run game, all those type things. The bottom line is, can you get up in a group of people and make them believe that you’re the right hire for the job? Coordinators have had that opportunity every day in their unit meetings, so they’re probably a little bit more better prepared for things of this nature, that we’re talking about right now than possibly a guy who all he does is sit around and talk to big O-linemen all the time. So I think they have an advantage there and certainly if their offense has numbers, it could be because they have a great O-line. It could be because they’re great coordinators. Who knows. But right now that’s what’s going on, the coordinators getting the jobs. And yes, would I like to do well for O-line coaches? Yes. But the main reason is because I was hired at Arkansas to do a job and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Fans Excited Pittman Wants to be at Arkansas
Many fans have stated their excitement for the Pittman hire because this is his dream job. He was asked on Tuesday if several fans have relayed that message to him?
“Well, you know the COVID world,” Pittman said. “I haven’t talked to many people, personally. Obviously, I’ll get some texts and some things of that nature, but I can feel the passion for the program and the passion of how much the Arkansas fans want this program to be respectable and be talked about in a respectable way. Is there pressure with that? Probably, but I don’t know how you put pressure on a guy that puts pressure on himself, you know what I mean? I love this place, and I want it to be what it should be. And it’s going to take a lot of work, but I’ll tell you this my friend, I’m surrounded by some great coaches, and our players are playing hard. And as long as they’ll do that, we’re going to improve. But to answer your question, you can feel the passion of Razorback fans. They want some respect, and certainly we’re going to try to give it to them.”