Arkansas fifth year senior linebacker Grant Morgan heard all the big names in his search for a coach for the Razor last December.
As a former Wanderer who played under two different training regimes in Arkansas, Morgan did his best every day to make a name for himself. He then learned that Arkansas had hired Sam Pittman, and Morgan’s phone immediately exploded due to calls from his older brother Drew and other former Arkansas players who played there when Pittman was insulting coach for Hogow.
They all said the same thing, that you just have the best job in the country. He’s not arrogant, and he’s not the one who comes and blows your brains out, but he’s the one who’s gonna work harder than anyone on that list, Morgan remembers. That’s all I wanted to hear, and that’s all we needed as head coaches. He’s not worried whether he’s smart or what happens in social networks.
I’d say we picked the right person.
Four games in Pittman’s first attack in the college headhunter series, he’s at 2-2, after losing 19 straight games against the SEC before his arrival. And he does so under the circumstances of the Covid 19 pandemic, when he and his team had no training with new players in the spring and had to build a relationship through Zoom this summer.
And as a bonus, at least for the Hog fans, Pittman’s two victories this season came from coaches Arkansas interviewed and met before hiring him – Mike Leach of Mississippi and Ole Miss Lane Kiffin. The pigs also met Elia Drinkwitz, who in her first season as head coach in Missouri, another school on the Arkansas calendar, has a different season each year.
He’s a very public figure with whom we talked about work, but Sam wasn’t afraid of what he was doing here at Arkansas University, said Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Juraček, who also talked about working with NFL farmer Deion Sanders.
Sam didn’t care about our list. He didn’t care how many games we’d won in the last three years. He just wanted to be a head football coach at the University of Arkansas and he worked tirelessly to lead this team to success.
Described by a former offensive coach, Pittman is refreshingly honest and equally modest.
You won’t have a career offensive coach like the number one on your list. Just no, and I understand that, said Pittman, who was assistant head coach and offensive line bus for the Hogs from 2013 to 2015 before joining Kirby Smart in Georgia.
I just wanted the job. I didn’t care if I was 100th on the list or first.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
There’s nothing wrong with the Pittman seal in a show that was broadcast on Texas A&M (7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, SEC network) Saturday. The pigs have allowed no more than three defensive touchdowns in their four games this season. They did go on the offense with the transfer of Pheleip Franks from Florida to the quarterback position and finished eighth in the country with a ratio of more than six in sales.
Juraček does not consider it a coincidence that the decline of the Arkansas programme began around the time that Pittman left for Georgia.
Come back and have a look at some of the offensive lines Sam formed when he was here, Juraček said.
Many of these strikers, some of whom are still playing in the NFL, helped Pittman’s team secure the position last December. Travis Swanson, Dan Skipper and Frank Ragnow are among those who have supported Pittman in social and other media.
Coach Pittman will bring out the best in each of his players because his players will play with all their hearts, knowing how much their head coach cares about them, or in our case, how much our online coach cares about us, said Ragnov in his third season with the Detroit Lions. You can see that now in Arkansas all the players are playing outside – the walkers, the players who aren’t five-star greens as you can see in the SEC, everything.
This makes it easier and enables you to be the most confident and enthusiastic player on the course.
Ragnov, who selected Lviv in the first round of the 2018 NFL selection, said he has never been close to a coach who, like Pittman, is connected and connected to his players. In fact, it was Pittman who helped Ragnow survive his father’s death from a heart attack during Ragnow’s breeding season.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Frank Ragnow, who now plays in the NFL, played in Arkansas when Sam Pittman was the offensive line coach and supported him as head coach. Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire
And that’s after Pittman left for training in Georgia.
Coach Pittman was one of the first people to call me after my father died, and he didn’t stop doing that, Ragnow said. There were a lot of nights with little sleep, a lot of fights and a lot of late calls with Coach Pittman, even though he was a student at the University of Georgia. He was always there, and he was like this with all his players.
Pittman, 58, began his coaching career in 1987 as head coach at Princeton High School in Missouri. After gathering his staff in Arkansas, he wanted to make sure he would hire a former Power 5 head coach. One of the first two people he hired was former Missouri head coach Barry Odom as the pig protection coordinator. Brad Davis, the attacking line coach, was the first to roll.
Every time I hung out with Brad, I called Barry. Pittman told me. I’ve known Barry a long time. When I was in Georgia, he even offered me a position as coordinator in Missouri, and we always wanted to train together.
The pig defense near Odom was one of the most improved units in the country. He is fourth in the SEC in terms of points scored in defense (25.5 points per game), after last being in the SEC a year ago and 124th in the country (36.8 points per game). Arkansas has scored 13 rounds in four games and leads the nation with an average of 3.25 forced rounds per game. The pigs also led the country with 10 interceptions, six of them in a 33-21 victory over Ole Miss, two of which returned to touchdowns.
And up front, freshman coordinator Kendall helped Brayles Franks play one of the most consistent football games of his career. Franks scored eight touchdowns and three steals with 64.1% of his passes and an average of 243.5 yards per game. Pittman said that Franks Arkansas had the program built because he was so tough and the quarterback – the most important position on the field – an area Hogs didn’t have to worry about.
Barry is the head coach of the defense. Kendall controls the attack, and Scott [Fountain] controls the special teams, and I don’t know what I’m doing, Pittman made a joke. But it was fun.
In four weeks, the Borovs have won twice as many SEC games for Pittman as in the last combined seasons of 2½, and could easily win 3-1 if they don’t lose 30-28 against Auburn. But Pittman, the unsurpassed man without excuses, won’t whine just because the pigs on the plain don’t whistle properly.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Grant Morgan, theArkansas linebacker, says Sam Pittman’s brutal honesty in the program has healed the wounds of the past. A picture of Michael Woods
The only thing you can control in life is what you can control, Pittman said. Mount Coweed, the call to Auburn… …everything. If you talk about it, you can change it. Otherwise, there’s no reason to talk about it.
After the victory over Ole Miss, Arkansas started with three previous and one current march. Hudson Clarke, a current red recruit, intercepted three passes against the insurgents, and Pittman said Clarke would receive his scholarship in January.
Morgan, who was named Chuck Bednarik international of the week after recording 19 abductions and returning from a touchdown after beating Miss Ole, said Pittman’s brutally honest approach to the program has healed past wounds.
We’ve never been closer, Morgan. There are no small clicks. Everyone supports each other, and it starts with Coach Pittman. He loves no one more than anyone else. Our senior captains are no more valued than the new ones. He set the standard, and we all bought it, and you can see it in the field.
So much so that Morgan said he would consider coming back next season, as the NCAA gives all players an extra year of competition given the situation with KOVID-19. Pittman recently mentioned an opportunity for Morgan, whose only offer from FBS, who dropped out of high school, was for the Air Force.
I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. Let me think about it for a second. I’ve never been recruited before, and I love the way Morgan Pittman made jokes…
It’s that kind of atmosphere around this team that has been contagious and, as Pittman points out, has made noise in Arkansas, both from the fans and from the rookies.
I wanted this year to be a season where we could give Arkansas an excuse to go to the University of Arkansas, Pittman said. I wanted them to come here, not because their parents were Razorback fans, but because it’s a great place and they’re proud to be here.
That’s where we’re going. We’ve only won two baseball games, but we’re trying to give the kids in our condition an excuse to go to Arkansas. That’s what really happened this season.
And while Juraček takes one of the best turns of school football on the field, he goes even further away this Sunday evening, just after the SEC a year ago, when he offered a job at Pittman.
Pittman was sitting at his kitchen table with his wife Jamie in Athens, Georgia, when Jurachek looked Pittman in the eye and told him he wanted to be Pig’s head coach.
Choose the winner of 10 school soccer games per week. Play directly or with confidence. Make your choice
Immediately, tears started flowing over Pittman’s face, then over Jamie’s.
I’m just limping, Pittman said.
The most interesting thing for Yurachek is that Pittman, who decided to retire to Hot Springs, Arkansas a few years ago, didn’t even ask how much he would be paid.
When Sam and Jamie had finished kissing, I asked: Do you care what I pay you? Yurachek told me. It was his dream job.
The next day, Juracek Pittmans introduced the players from Arkansas, a group that survived a 19-game losing streak against the SEC, not to mention shameful defeats in San Jose, Kentucky West and North Texas, and a group looking for someone – someone who believed in them.
Pittman’s first words to his players said it all: You didn’t choose me. I chose you.
Ragnow is convinced that the best is yet to come, especially now that Pittman can gain a foothold on the recruitment circuit.
We see success so soon, and I’m even more excited to see the future, said Ragnow. All pigs.
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