FAYETTEVILLE — When Hunter Yurachek was searching for a coach to replace Chad Morris the long and winding road took him to Sam Pittman.
Only Yurachek knows how many coaches he reached out to before hiring Pittman. But sources indicate it was a bunch getting at least a feeler if not an offer. One coach who sources indicate was offered the job told people close to him that “Arkansas was a career killer.” He didn’t want to come to Arkansas and get fired in Year 2 and kill his career.
Pittman didn’t look at it like that. Arkansas was his dream job and instead of getting his career killed he led the Hogs to three SEC wins last year and they could have won another trio. Three SEC wins may not sound impressive to a casual observer, but when the fact Arkansas only had one SEC in the previous three years combined then it’s impressive. Pittman did that dealing with all kinds of COVID issues.
Now, in Year 2, Pittman has the Razorbacks at 6-3 and bowl eligible with three games still remaining. The Hogs are the early favorites against LSU, which won the national championship the year before Pittman was hired, in a night game in Baton Rouge. Pittman is a positive person, but did he think the Hogs would be favored over LSU in his 20th game here?
“I think it’s a little bit of a combination of both teams,” Pittman said. “But I don’t know. I’ve got a strong belief in the University of Arkansas. We came here to win football games the best we know how. But no, going to LSU at night and being favored in Year 2, probably, honestly, probably no.”
Pittman is too humble to say it, but what this amounts to is one hell of a job by himself, the assistants and players. Pittman and the Hogs are 9-10 through 19 games playing both years what many consider the toughest schedules in college football. Pittman has earned himself a bonus by getting the team bowl eligible this season. Was it his idea to put that in the contract?
“No, I think in my contract it was if you want to earn a raise or whatever,” Pittman said. “You know, it had a clause in there at six, seven and eight. So, we hit one of them. Oh no. I didn’t have an idea. They had a contract, and I had a signature. There was no idea about it. He had a laptop, and he opened it up, and he started reading and I started signing. It was a pretty simple deal.”
Pittman went into a little more detail about the contract and being offered the job.
“Well, you know, Hunter went over… and I don’t think he’ll mind me sharing,” Pittman said. “He went over the contract, and then he was going over the ‘when you get fired’ part of it, and I remember I told him, ‘You can go over that if you want to. You’re wasting your time. You’re not going to fire me. I remember saying that, and he said, ‘Well, contractually…’ or whatever. What do you call that? Legally or whatever? He’s got to go over it, you know. But I wasn’t listening to it. I mean, I saw I’m going to be the head coach of Arkansas. The rest of it really didn’t matter to me to be honest with you.”
Pittman is a good example of Yurachek not getting his top choice for the job, but getting the best choice. This is something that Yurachek has done well while at Arkansas including hiring Eric Musselman in a somewhat similar fashion. And in typical Pittman fashion he rightfully credited everyone else for what is happening with the program right now including his wife Jamie.
“You know, I don’t do a whole lot,” Pittman said. “I really don’t. I stand down there and whatever. You hire coaches to help you win games, and then you go recruit players, do that. Really that… No, I’m not going to share it with the coaches either, by the way. That’s all of us together. They get their own little bonus for a bowl. They’ll be fine. No, it’s all of us, and really a neat deal for Jamie and I.”
Arkansas will return to the practice fields today. Saturday night’s game will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. in Baton Rouge and televised on the SEC Network.